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3 Team Roster
4 Profile: Vic Schaefer
6 Award Winners
8 General Season
10 NCAA 1st and 2nd rounds
12 Sweet 16
14 Elite 8
16 Final Four
18 Championship
22 Stats
23 Season Facts
24 Final Words ABOVE: The Mississippi State women’s basketball team was a special
guest at a welcome party March 28 in Columbus, Ohio. MSU
defeated Louisville 73-63 in overtime in the national semifinals March
30. Photo by Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations.

LEFT: Mississippi State’s women’s basketball team huddles up during
a practice at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, in preparation for
its Final Four matchup against Louisville. MSU beat Louisville to return
to the national title game for the second-consecutive season. Photo
by Kelly Price/MSU Athletic Media Relations.

Top of page: A record 10,794 packed Humphrey Coliseum on Feb. 5,
2018, to help propel the No. 2 Mississippi State women’s
basketball team to a 67-53 victory against No. 7 South Carolina. The
win snapped the program’s 11-game losing streak in the series and
served as some revenge for MSU’s loss to South Carolina in the
national championship game in 2017.
Photo by Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch.

2 The Dispatch

Player Pos. Hgt. Yr. Hometown/School Player Pos. Hgt. Yr. Hometown/School
1 Blair Schaefer G 5-7 Sr. Starkville, Miss. / Starkville HS 20 Nyah Tate G 6-0 Fr. Terry, Miss. / Terry HS
2 Morgan William G 5-5 Sr. Birmingham, Ala. / Shades Valley HS 21 Jonika Garvin F 6-0 Jr. Lake Worth, Fla. / LW Comm. / P. Beach St. CC
3 Myah Taylor G 5-7 Fr. Olive Branch, Miss. / Olive Branch HS 23 Bre’Amber Scott G 5-11 Fr. Little Rock, Arkansas / Central HS
10 Jazzmun Holmes G 5-8 Jr. Gulfport, Miss. / Harrison Central HS 24 Jordan Danberry G 5-8 Jr. Conway, Ark. / Conway HS/ Arkansas
11 Roshunda Johnson G 5-7 R-Sr. L. Rock, Ark. / Parkview HS/ Oklahoma St. 25 Zion Campbell C 6-3 R-So. Washington, D.C. / Riverdale Baptist School
12 Jacaira Allen G 5-10 So. Pompano Beach, Fla. / Dillard HS 35 Victoria Vivians G 6-1 Sr. Carthage, Miss / Scott Central HS
15 Teaira McCowan C 6-7 Jr. Brenham, Texas / Brenham HS 55 Chloe Bibby F 6-1 Fr. Warracknabeal, Australia / Rowville Sec. Coll.

Vic Schaefer — Head Coach n Points — Victoria Vivians (19.8 per game)
Johnnie Harris — Associate Head Coach n Rebounds — Teaira McCowan (13.9 per game)
Dionnah Jackson-Durrett — Assistant Coach n Assists — Morgan William (176, 4.5 per game)
Carly Thibault-DuDonis — Assistant Coach n Steals — Roshunda Johnson (74, 1.9 per game)
Dominique Dillingham — Student Assistant
n Field Goal Percentage — Zion Campbell (64.7 percent)
Maryann Baker — Director of Operations
Skylar Collins — Director of Scouting / Video Coordinator n Free Throw Percentage — Blair Schaefer (88.9 percent)

The Dispatch 3
V ic Schaefer’s vision has become a blueprint.
Back-to-back losing seasons didn’t deter the longtime assis-
tant and associate head coach prior to his arrival in Starkville
in March 2012. Instead, Schaefer and his wife, Holly, saw the
potential at Mississippi State, in Humphrey Coliseum, and at
Mize Pavilion, the new practice facility for the school’s men’s and
women’s basketball programs.
The Schaefers also saw that promise in a campus, in a commu-
nity, and in a fan base they sensed was primed to support them in to get the job done. I think we push each other in that regard. If
their transformation of the MSU women’s basketball program. you have someone to your right and left working to get it done,
Six years later, the accomplishments speak for them: back- you’re going to pull your weight in that regard.”
to-back appearances in the national championship game, a Competitive spirit and toughness have become MSU’s identi-
program-record 37 victories, a first Southeastern Conference ty under Schaefer’s guidance. In the first few years, MSU relied
regular-season title, and the first undefeated regular season by a on its defense to win games. In the last two seasons, though,
SEC team in 20 years — just to mention a few. The numbers also Schaefer, whose nickname is Secretary of Defense, has blos-
reflect the work Schaefer, the members of his coaching staff, and somed as an offensive coach. He has tailored his sets to play to
his players have done behind the scenes. This season, MSU drew the talents of players who have worked to improve their skills.
a program-record attendance of 133,906, which was sixth in the Schaefer has said many times in the last two years that MSU
nation, another program best. The Bulldogs’ average attendance takes pride in its ability to recruit, retain, and develop players.
of 7,439 was the highest in program history. At No. 7 nationally, it The ability to help players realize that potential is another rea-
matched the ranking of 2016-17 (6,641). son why Schaefer and the Bulldogs have become a fixture in the
“As I told Scott Stricklin, my athletic director then, I wanted to national conversation.
come here and build a top-10 program,” Schaefer said last month “Dionnah and Johnnie do a really good job as well as myself
prior to the Final Four. “There’s a difference between top-25 of having relationships with the kids,” Thibault-DuDonis said.
teams and top-10 programs. Programs are there every year. You “Coach Schaefer seals the deal. He sells himself in the sense he is
pick up a preseason poll, you’re looking for a certain team in the a winner. He is a competitive. He gives off that energy to families
top 10. You don’t know where they are going to be, but they are in that we’re going to get it done here and we’re going to take care of
the top 10.” the players. He obviously is a father figure, so all of those things
MSU has realized that goal thanks to a veteran coach who come together in recruiting.”
has set the tone with a drive to be the best that is second to Those things come through on the court, too, whether Schae-
none. A coaching staff of associate head coach Johnnie Harris, fer is talking with an official or is holding his players accountable.
assistant coaches Dionnah Jackson-Durrett and Carly Thi- It’s plain to see the passion is genuine. It’s just as easy to see why
bault-DuDonis, director of operations Maryann Baker, director the Bulldogs have been able to increase their win total every sea-
of scouting/video coordinator Skylar Collins, and student son under Schaefer (13, 22, 27, 28, 34, 37) and why the moniker
assistant coach Dominique Dillingham complement Schaefer’s “the people’s team” fits the Bulldogs so well.
attention to detail and have played crucial roles in elevating If you need a reminder, look for Schaefer because he is work-
MSU’s profile. ing on something to ensure MSU is prepared for its next test.
But all of the coaches on staff point to Schaefer’s leadership as Harris, who admits she didn’t know Schaefer very well when
the engine behind the program’s evolution into a national power. she first met him, has developed a chemistry with Schaefer that
“Coach Schaefer works so hard in everything,” Jack- drives the program. She said it was easy for her to “jump in the
son-Durrett said. “He is tirelessly working. When I first got here, fox hole” and show Schaefer she was 100 percent committed to
I was really impressed. He never sits down. He coaches every making it work at MSU.
possession with his passion. Some people take moments off. He is “I think we feed off each other,” Harris said. “At the end of the
not like that. He is coaching to make sure he is putting somebody day, they’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes and we have
in the best position every time. That hard work is amazing to see to get on them, and we have to get on them hard. If I am getting
in action. People say they work hard, but he doesn’t have to say it on them, he is making sure they know she is not getting on you
because you really see it. As a result, we are where we are.” because she doesn’t like you. She is getting on you because she
Said Thibault-DuDonis, “He starts and ends everything by cares about you and she wants you to make better decisions.
putting good people around our kids, around each other, people “It is the same thing with him. I tell the players in a game
with good values, and then you have a lot of people who are don’t listen to his tone, listen to what he is saying. His tone is just
blue-collar, hard-working people. All of us come from different passion.”
backgrounds but with the same kind of background of a win-
ning mentality, a grind it out, do whatever it takes type of thing By Adam Minichino |

The Dispatch 5
Award winners
Victoria Vivians
Season n Tied fifth highest free throw percentage — 76.5
n Second most points by a senior — 773 n Seventh most rebounds — 783
n Second most points — 773 n Fourth most steals — 218
n Third most field goals — 295 n Tied 10th highest steals per game — 1.5
n Fifth most field goals attempted — 608 n Most games as leading scorer — 81

n Second most points — 2,527
n Sixth highest points per game — 17.1
n Second most field goals — 923
n Most field goals attempted — 2,286
n Second most 3-point field goals — 281
n Second most 3-point field goals attempted — 866
n Fourth most free throws — 400
n Sixth most free throws attempted — 523

RoSHUNDA JOhnson Blair Schaefer Morgan William
Game Season Season
n Tied 10th most n Second most 3-point n Second most assists
assists — 10, vs. field goals made — 97 by a senior — 176
Arkansas n Fifth most 3-point n Highest free throw
Season field goals attempted percentage — 86.3
n Seventh most 3-point — 235 n Tied third most
field goals made — 76 assists — 176
n Seventh highest Career n Tied 10th highest
3-point field goal n Fifth most 3-point assists per game —
percentage — 41.8 field goals made — 4.5
Career n Sixth most 3-point field goals attempted Career
n Highest 3-point field goal percentage — 455 n Ninth most points — 1,400
— 42.4 n Third highest 3-point field goal percentage n Second most free throws — 531
— 38.5 n Second most free throws attempted — 627
n Highest free throw percentage — 84.7
n Most assists — 656
n Highest assists per game — 4.5
n Ninth most steals — 181

Game Season
n Tied second most points by a junior — 41, vs. n Second most points by a junior — 710
Mississippi Valley State n Most rebounds by a junior — 544
n Most rebounds by a junior — 25, vs. Louisville n Third most blocks by a junior — 81
n Tied fifth most blocks by a junior — 5, vs. Oregon, n Fifth most points — 710
Mississippi Valley State, Kentucky n Fifth most field goals — 286
n Tied eighth most points — 41, vs. Mississippi n Second highest field goal percentage — 60.1
Valley State n Fourth most free throws attempted — 218
n Most rebounds — 544
n Second most field goals made — 19, vs.
n Highest rebounds per game — 13.9
Mississippi Valley State n Fifth most blocks — 81
n Tied third most field goals made — 15, vs. n Seventh highest blocks per game — 2.1
Louisiana and Oregon n Highest rebounding average — 13.9
n Tied second most rebounds — 25, vs. Louisville n Most games as leading rebounder — 35
n Tied eighth most rebounds — 21, vs. UCLA n Most consecutive games as leading rebounder (tied)
n Tied 10th most rebounds — 20 vs. Louisiana, — 13
LSU, South Carolina, Kentucky n Second most consecutive games with 10+ rebounds
— 13
n Most double-doubles — 29

6 The Dispatch
General season
S TARKVILLE — Vic Schaefer talk-
ed about the Mississippi State women’s
basketball team winning championships
when he was introduced as the pro-
gram’s new coach on March 13, 2012.
Since then, Schaefer and the Bull-
dogs embraced that goal in a climb that
saw the team win 13, 22, 27, 28, and 34
games in the last five seasons.
A year ago, MSU ended a pro-
gram-best campaign with a loss to
South Carolina in the national champi-
onship game. As a reminder of what it
would take to return to those heights,
Schaefer put pictures of the Southeast-
ern Conference championship trophy
in his team’s locker room in an effort to
motivate his players.
In Schaefer’s eyes, it was only a
matter of time before MSU took care of
“unfinished business” and secured the
program’s first championship.
MSU realized that goal Feb. 18 when
it defeated Texas A&M 76-55 before a
sell-out crowd of 9,933 at Humphrey
Coliseum. The victory helped the Bull-
dogs clinch their first SEC regular-sea-
son championship. The title also was
the first for any women’s sport at MSU.
“To be able to do it in front of our
fans, it just doesn’t get any better than
this,” Schaefer said. “It is very, very
The victory was part of an undefeat-
ed regular season, which was the first
by a SEC team in 20 years. MSU added
to its 30-0 regular–season mark with
wins against Kentucky and Texas A&M
in the SEC tournament before losing
to South Carolina in the championship
game of the SEC tournament.
That loss didn’t diminish the signif-
icance of an accomplishment that was
six years in the making.

RIGHT: Mississippi State guard
Victoria Vivians (35) goes up for a shot
against South Carolina forward A’ja
Wilson (22) in the second half of the
championship game of the Southeastern
Conference tournament at Bridgestone
Arena. South Carolina won 62-51.
Photo by Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports

8 The Dispatch
ABOVE: Mississippi State guard Blair Schaefer (1) dives for a loose ball between Kentucky’s Maci Morris, left, and Amanda
Paschal, right, during the first half of their game Sunday, Feb. 11, in Starkville. Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch

“We’ve not dodged talking about championships at Mississippi
State,” Schaefer said. “But it’s one thing to talk the talk. You’ve
got to walk the walk. I think these kids have walked it every day
in practice, preparation for games, in games.”
The 32-game winning streak was the second-longest run in
SEC history. MSU’s 16-0 SEC regular-season record helped it
eclipse the 13-3 SEC record set by the 2016-17 squad.
The run through the regular season and SEC tournament
helped MSU secure its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
It also was part of a slew of awards that included Schaefer get-
ting named SEC Coach of the Year, Victoria Vivians and Teaira
McCowan receiving first-team All-SEC honors, McCowan sharing
the league defensive player of the year honor with South Caro-
lina’s A’ja Wilson, Morgan William getting named second-team
All-SEC by the league’s coaches, and Blair Schaefer being named
to the SEC All-Defensive team and co-Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Among the other highlights was Vivians winning a record
fourth Gillom Trophy as the state of Mississippi’s best women’s
college basketball player.
Nearly all of it came in front of big crowds. MSU set another
attendance record in closing the home portion of the schedule
with four-straight sellouts. The total stretched to six after the first
two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Those games gave the seniors two final opportunities to play at
home after the best regular season in program history.
The finale also provided a chance for Schaefer to deliver on
a pledge to donate $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club after fans
helped the program set a school record of 113,814 for the 16 regu-
lar-season home dates.
ABOVE: Mississippi State guard Morgan William (2) is
“I don’t know of anybody who had a better day than I did to-
fouled by South Carolina guard Tyasha Harris (52) on a
day,” Schaefer said following an 82-61 victory against Auburn on drive to the basket in the first half of the championship
Feb. 22. game of the Southeastern Conference tournament at
Bridgestone Arena.
By Adam Minichino | Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

The Dispatch 9
NCAA 1 & 2 rounds st nd
WHERE: Starkville WHEN: March 17 & 19, 2018

Mississippi State senior guard Victoria Vivians poses for a picture after a 71-56 victory against Oklahoma State in the second
round of the NCAA tournament at Humphrey Coliseum. The victory earned MSU a spot in the Sweet 16. Top-seeded MSU
advanced to face No. 4 seed North Carolina State in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City. Photo by Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch

10 The Dispatch
LEFT: Mississippi State junior center Teaira McCowan turns to score two of her 21 points against Oklahoma State in the second
round of the NCAA tournament. McCowan also had 18 rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots.

RIGHT: Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer embraces his daughter, senior Blair Schaefer, in the closing mo-
ments of his team’s 71-56 victory against Oklahoma State at Humphrey Coliseum. Photos by Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch

and had to be helped from the floor.
Miller’s absence proved costly, as Vivians scored on a layup
TARKVILLE — Roshunda Johnson, Blair Schaefer, off a turnover, Teaira McCowan rebounded a Johnson miss and
Victoria Vivians, and Morgan William left Humphrey scored, and Vivians hit a pull-up jumper in the lane. MSU also
Coliseum in style. capitalized on the fourth foul being called on Loryn Goodwin
First, they and the Mississippi State women’s basketball at the 4-minute, 39-second mark. The move forced OSU coach
team needed to knock off a little rust. Jim Littell to take the graduate student, who scored 35 points
Buoyed by back-to-back sell-out crowds, MSU started its against MSU in a regular-season meeting in December, off the
return trip to the national championship game with a 95-50 vic- point.
tory against Nicholls on March 17 and a 71-56 victory against “They’re just hard to guard,” Littell said. “We had trouble
Oklahoma State on March 19 in the first and second rounds of guarding (MSU’s motion offense) the first time. When we
the NCAA tournament. switched this time, it created some matchups where they had
The victories came in front of crowds of 10,211 and 9,881, people a lot quicker than we did. The bottom line is they were
which helped the Bulldogs record the second-highest atten- quicker and more athletic in some positions and we had trou-
dance for the first and second rounds (20,092). ble keeping them in front of us.”
The wins also helped seniors Schaefer, Vivians, and William The game against Nicholls wasn’t as pleasing to coach
run their win total to a program-best 123, cap an 18-0 mark at Schaefer, even though MSU handed Nicholls its worst loss of
home in 2017-18, and equal the 2016-17 squad for most wins in the season and posted its largest margin of victory in a NCAA
a season (34). tournament game. Still, Schaefer wasn’t happy with his team’s
“They have the target on their back and they continue to execution and said it had 48 hours to “figure it out” before it
take everybody’s best shot,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. “I took the next step against OSU.
don’t know if I have ever seen anything like it. I just can’t say “We had a lot of rust to knock off. I think everybody sees
enough about them.” that,” Schaefer said. “It is my job to try to help get that rust
The game against OSU featured 11 ties and 10 lead chang- knocked off, and right now I am obviously not doing a very
es. With the game tied at 41, MSU went into sustained attack good job. We are really rusty in a lot of areas.”
mode and finished the third quarter on a 14-4 run. The surge Vivians had 20 points and 13 rebounds for her fourth dou-
included a little bit of everything that made MSU a high-pow- ble-double of the season. Blair Schaefer added 18 points and
ered offensive machine. Johnson started the spurt by making a McCowan had 18 points and 13 rebounds to her extend her
back cut in the motion offense and taking a pass from Vivians single-season record for double-doubles to 24.
(team-high 23 points) and scoring. OSU freshman guard Brax-
tin Miller collapsed in a pile with Johnson following the play By Adam Minichino |

The Dispatch 11
sWEET 16 WHERE: Kansas City, Missouri WHEN: March 23, 2018

Mississippi State junior center Teaira McCowan (15) celebrates after scoring against North Carolina State in the second quarter in
the semifinals of the NCAA tournament’s Kansas City Regional at the Sprint Center.
Photo by Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

12 The Dispatch
K ANSAS CITY, Mo. — Teaira
McCowan doesn’t like to waste time.
If you ask a question, she will look
you in the eyes and answer it as honestly
and quickly as possible.
McCowan is just as efficient on the
court. Get her the basketball and Mc-
Cowan will make a beeline to the rim.
Unfortunately, McCowan sometimes
gets a little too anxious to attack the
basket. As a result, she is called for trav-
eling or doesn’t take her time to pass the
ball back out and re-post to get a second
McCowan didn’t have any of those
troubles against North Carolina State.
McCowan went 11-for-11 to set the
NCAA Regional single-game record for
field goal percentage in the Mississippi
State women’s basketball team’s 71-57
victory in the Sweet 16 at the Sprint Mississippi State guard Roshunda Johnson (11) shoots as North Carolina State
Center. center Akela Maize (32) defends in the third quarter of the semifinals of the NCAA
“I feel like she was really dominating,” tournament’s Kansas City Regional at the Sprint Center.
MSU senior guard Blair Schaefer said. Photo by Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports
“She was refusing to lose. She didn’t
want to lose her battle. She only let her girl get three shots Championship record for field goal percentage, which stood
off.” since 1985 (Saint Joseph’s Terry Carmichael vs. North Caroli-
McCowan had 24 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocked na State on March 15, 1985).
shots in 37 minutes. She limited Akela Maize to 2-for-3 shoot- “This time of year you lose and you go home and you basi-
ing from the field. It was her 26th double-double of the season cally start over, so my team and my seniors, the four that I got,
and third-straight double-double in the NCAA tournament, I’m trying to make it the best it can be and go as far as possi-
and fourth overall. ble,” McCowan said.
The performance also tied the overall single game NCAA McCowan capitalized on work with MSU associate head
coach Johnnie Harris that focused on getting
the ball and not taking a dribble. Late in the
season, opponents collapsed on McCowan
and made it difficult for her to put the ball on
the floor to maneuver in the paint. Harris said
the Bulldogs worked with McCowan to get
her to avoid dribbling and to catch, turn, and
score. McCowan executed that strategy to
perfection against the Wolfpack.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody go
11-for-11,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer, who
referenced McCowan’s 11-for-12 effort against
Florida as a sophomore. “I said it the other
day, whoever is on the committee, whoever
is voting, if she’s not a first-team All-Ameri-
can, then they need to get rid of the daggum
award. She has done it against the best com-
petition in the country, all year long.
“It’s off the chart. She does it with three
people hanging on her. … She is getting the
rebounds and the points. She alters the points
and a lot of times she goes into the lane and
the guards back up. Just the impact the kid
has on the game is incredible.”

By Adam Minichino |
Mississippi State guard Roshunda Johnson (11) attacks the basket against
North Carolina State forward Chelsea Nelson (5) in the second half of the
semifinals of the NCAA tournament’s Kansas City Regional at the Sprint Center.
Photo by Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

The Dispatch 13
Elite 8 WHERE: Kansas City, Missouri WHEN: March 25, 2018

ABOVE: The Mississippi
State women’s
ANSAS CITY, Mo. — Pick your poison was a familiar refrain for opponents of the Mississippi basketball team and
State women’s basketball team. coach Vic Schaefer
Take away 6-foot-7 junior center Teaira McCowan? The Bulldogs would turn to Victoria Vivians, raise the trophy after
beating UCLA 89-73 in
Roshunda Johnson, and Blair Schaefer and rain 3-pointers down on you. the championship game
Try to limit the touches of Vivians, Johnson, and Schaefer with aggressive player-to-player de- of the NCAA
fense? The Bulldogs would switch gears and pound the ball inside to McCowan so she could exploit tournament’s Kansas
her size advantage. City Regional at the
That’s the dilemma UCLA coach Cori Close faced prior to her team’s Elite Eight matchup against Sprint Center.
MSU on March 25. Prior to the game, a lot of the talk focused on pace and how the Bruins liked to Photo by Denny Medley/
push the tempo. USA TODAY Sports
But all of the talk about offense omitted one crucial element: MSU’s defense.
In one of the best first halves of defensive basketball, MSU set the tone by limiting UCLA to two
field goals in the second quarter and building a 16-point halftime lead en route to an 89-73 victory
before a crowd of 4,089 in the Kansas City Regional final at the Sprint Center.

14 The Dispatch
“Vic Schaefer has always been a great
defensive coach,” Close said. “One of the best
in the country, no doubt about that. He’s pas-
sionate about it, and their kids play reflecting
his passion on the defensive end. We didn’t
execute and maybe take advantage of some
of the mismatches we thought we had, but
credit to their pressure. We weren’t able to
move the ball and take advantage of those as
smoothly as we would have wanted to, which
would have created some better rhythm and
some higher-percentage shots.”
MSU limited UCLA to 37.3-percent
shooting (25-for-67) and answered every run
in the second half. Even though the Bruins
scored 47 points in the final 20 minutes, they
couldn’t dig themselves out of the first-half
Vivians led the Bulldogs with 24 points,
while McCowan had 23 points and 21 re-
bounds. Morgan William had 17 points, Ro-
shunda Johnson added 12, and Blair Schaefer
had nine, including three key 3-pointers that
helped the Bulldogs stop the Bruins’ momen-
“We executed plays,” said William, who
joined Johnson with a team-high five assists.
“Went back down and got a stop, and I felt
like we kept building and repeating, and that
helped us.”
MSU complemented a defensive effort that
included four blocked shots by McCowan.
The Bulldogs also did a good job of contain-
ing senior point guard Jordin Canada, who
had a team-high 23 points but was 6-for-18
from the field.
“These kids have worked their hearts out,
and they deserve it,” Schaefer said. “I think
they will be on a mission. We talked about
UCLA being on a mission today, and I was
proud of what Victoria said the other day,
our vision, our focus, our intensity hasn’t
changed since last season. We’re even more
intent on trying to do what we didn’t get done
a year ago.”

By Adam Minichino |

RIGHT: Mississippi State guard Victoria
Vivians (35) shoots as UCLA guard Kennedy
Burke (22) defends in the second half of the
championship game of the NCAA
tournament’s Kansas City Regional of the at
the Sprint Center.
Photo by Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports

The Dispatch 15
Final Four WHERE: Columbus, Ohio WHEN: March 30, 2018

C OLUMBUS, Ohio — The shot is only part of the story.
History will remember the execution on the final in-
bounds play of regulation that set up Roshunda Johnson to
drain “the shot” that became part of Mississippi State wom-
en’s basketball lore. The 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds remain-
ing tied MSU’s national semifinal game against Louisville at
But while some shots signal an end, Johnson’s was a begin-
Not only did MSU have to survive a wild finish in regula-
tion, but it also had to take care of business in the five-minute
extra session. Thanks to a balanced effort that epitomized
the 2017-18 campaign, MSU pulled away for a 73-63 overtime

TOP: Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians (35) drives to the
basket between Louisville’s Jazmine Jones (23) and Dana
Evans (1) during the fourth quarter.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch

RIGHT: Mississippi State’s Jordan Danberry (24) shoots over
Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen (2) during the fourth quarter.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch

16 The Dispatch
victory to advance to the national championship
game for the second-consecutive season.
“We talk about toughness all the time, compet-
itive spirit, and I just thought it was really special
with them,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said.
The Bulldogs scripted a special ending thanks
in part to a 14-4 OT session in which they held
the Cardinals (36-3) to 1-for-10 shooting. Still, the
outcome was in doubt with less than a minute to
go before Morgan William hit two free throws
with 46 seconds remaining. William then made
a steal on a lead pass to Dana Evans to set the
stage for Jordan Danberry to hit 3 of 4 free
throws in a span of nine seconds to kick the lead
to 69-63.
Danberry aided the final push with a steal
on a drive by All-American Asia Durr. Teaira
McCowan punctuated the victory with a 3-point
play following an offensive rebound. She added
a celebratory yell with 7.8 seconds to go to help
send the Bulldogs home.
Vivians (game-high 25 points) had five points
in OT, while William (10 points, four assists),
Danberry (10 points, three steals), and McCowan
(21 points 25 rebounds) added three to help the
Bulldogs rebound from a 3-for-15 start from the
field in the first quarter.
Neither MSU nor Johnson, who was 1-for-5
from the field and 0-for-2 from 3-point range
prior to “the shot,” allowed the first 10 minutes to
affect their confidence, even though MSU called
timeout with 6 minutes, 59 seconds to go in regu-
lation trailing 53-46. ABOVE: Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians (35) shoots over Louisville’s
“We talk about when things get a little bit Jazmine Jones (23) and Myisha Hines-Allen (2) during the fourth quarter.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch
tough and too tough for most people, when it gets
really, really hard,” Schaefer said. “That’s when it
gets about right for us.”
Everything worked out after Johnson’s 3-point-
er, too. McCowan contested a layup by Myisha
Hines-Allen on the left side of the rim on the
ensuing possession. Jazmine Jones rebounded
the miss, but her shot bounced off the back of the
The sprint to the finish secured a place for
Johnson, a redshirt senior who transferred to
MSU from Oklahoma State, to cement her place
in program history.
“Shooters never give up on a shot,” Johnson
said. “I felt like even when I was missing I wasn’t
going to stop shooting just because I wasn’t
making any. My teammates got me open. Coach
wrote up an excellent play and we just had to go
out and execute it. When I hit the shot, I mean, it
made me 1-for-3 (from 3-point range).”

By Adam Minichino |

RIGHT: Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan (15)
fights for a rebound with Louisville’s
Myisha Hines-Allen (2) during overtime. McCowan
thought she was fouled on the play but no whistle
was blown.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch

The Dispatch 17
Championship WHERE: Columbus, Ohio WHEN: April 1, 2018

V ic Schaefer had to like his chances.
After all, it was a knock-down, drag-
out game, the kind the Mississippi State
women’s basketball team has relished for
the last four seasons.
On the way to a program-record 126
victories, MSU found a way to counter
punch nearly every time. It didn’t matter
if it was Roshunda Johnson, Teaira Mc-
Cowan, Blair Schaefer, Victoria Vivians,
or Morgan William, someone always
found a way to make one more play to
send the Bulldogs home with a victory.
This time, though, the one more the
Bulldogs needed proved to be just out of
their reach.
Arike Ogunbowale seized the open-
ing by draining an off-balance 3-pointer
from the right corner with 0.1 second
remaining to lift Notre Dame to a 61-58
victory against MSU in the national
championship game before a crowd of
19,599 at Nationwide Arena.
The dagger followed a missed layup
and a turnover by MSU that scripted the
wrong ending for the Bulldogs.
“They answered in the third quarter,”
said Schaefer, whose team led 40-25 with

ABOVE: Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan (15) shoots over
Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard (23) in the fourth quarter.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch.

LEFT: Mississippi State’s Morgan William (2) shoots between
Notre Dame defenders Marina Mabrey (3) and Jackie Young
(5) in the third quarter.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch.

FAR LEFT: Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians (35) gets one
final shot with 0.1 second left on the game clock, but the
basket didn’t fall and no Notre Dame players were around her
to foul her, which was the only way to tie the game and send
it to overtime. Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch

The Dispatch 19
6 minutes, 41 seconds remaining in the
third quarter. “Then the fourth quarter
is a knock down, drag out. We had a
chance and don’t get it done and they
make the one play.”
Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer came off an
inbounds play from the right side of the
court just in front of the Notre Dame
bench. The Bulldogs took away the first
option — a pass into Jessica Shepard in
the post — and then switched defenders
on Ogunbowale after she screened for a
teammate. MSU’s rule on plays like that
is to deny the ball to the player coming
off the screen, but it couldn’t prevent
Ogunbowale from catching the ball.
Still, Vivians had a hand in her face as
she attempted what proved to be the
“I thought we defended the play pret-
ty well,” Schaefer said. “The kid made a
shot. Pat her on the butt, man. She made
a great shot.”
The 3-pointer helped Ogunbowale fin-
ish with 18 points on 6-for-21 shooting.
Jackie Young, who scored a career-high
32 points in a victory against Connecti-
cut in the national semifinals, had only
six points on 2-for-7 shooting. But

ABOVE: Mississippi
State’s Victoria Vivians
(35) attempts a shot
in the fourth quarter
against Notre Dame.
Photo by Jim Lytle/
Special to The Dispatch.

LEFT: Mississippi
State’s Blair Schaefer
(1) looks to pass the
ball away from the
defense of Notre
Dame’s Marina Mabrey
(3) during the third
Photo by Jim Lytle/
Special to The Dispatch.

20 The Dispatch
Mississippi State’s Roshunda Johnson
(11) shoots over the outstretched arm of
Notre Dame’s Marina Mabrey (3) during
the fourth quarter. Photo by Jim Lytle/ Mississippi State Coach Vic Schaefer sends Victoria Vivians (35) back into the game
Special to The Dispatch. during the third quarter. Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch.

Shepard (19 points, 8-for-10 shooting) played a
pivotal role in the post.
Guard Marina Mabrey (10 points) also played
a big part, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:35 to go. The
basket followed Johnson’s trey as the shot clock
expired that gave MSU a 58-53 lead and erased
the Bulldogs’ momentum.
“I thought tonight was going to be another
shot where you’d be talking to her about a big
shot she made that helped us win a national
championship,” said Schaefer, referring to the
3-pointer Johnson hit at the end of regulation
against Louisville to send that game to overtime.
On this night, that 3-pointer was Johnson’s
only basket. Vivians (team-high 21 points) and
McCowan (18 points, 17 rebounds) also didn’t
have an answer to help MSU avoid losing in
the national championship game for the sec-
ond-straight season.
“It was a heck of a game,” Schaefer said. “It
was just like we talked about. It comes down to
one play. You’ve got to make one more play, and
we just didn’t make the play, and they did.”

By Adam Minichino |

Mississippi State’s, Morgan William (2) kneels on the court as the
celebration begins for Notre Dame after winning the national championship.
Photo by Jim Lytle/Special to The Dispatch.

The Dispatch 21
Women’s Mississippi State 73, Mississippi State 71, Mississippi State 95, Nicholls 50
Louisville 63, OT North Carolina State 57 NICHOLLS (19-14): Lilly 2-4 2-2 6, Barrios
NCAA Division I tournament LOUISVILLE (36-3): Fuehring 1-6 0-0 2, N.C. STATE (26-9): Nelson 2-13 1-2 5,
6-15 1-2 14, Charles 2-18 0-0 5, Hamilton 1-3
KANSAS CITY REGIONAL 3-4 5, Williams 5-16 2-2 16, Washington 0-1 0-0
Hines-Allen 5-18 0-0 11, Carter 3-10 0-0 6, Durr Maize 2-3 1-2 5, Ealey 2-8 3-4 7, Konig 4-9 0-0 0, Williams 2-6 0-0 4, Collins 0-2 0-0 0, Totals
First Round
6-17 3-3 18, Jones 7-9 1-2 15, Dunham 1-1 0-0 9, Leslie 8-13 9-10 27, Cassell 0-3 0-0 0, Rog- 18-65 8-10 50.
Saturday, March 17
2, Shook 0-1 0-0 0, Evans 4-8 1-2 9, Zambrotta ers 0-1 0-2 0, Cole 2-2 0-0 4, Crutchfield 0-0 MISSISSIPPI STATE (33-1): McCowan 6-8
At Starkville
0-0 0-0 0, Totals 27-70 5-7 63. 0-0 0, Totals 20-52 14-20 57. 6-9 18, Johnson 2-5 1-2 6, Schaefer 5-9 5-5 18,
Oklahoma State 84, Syracuse 57 Vivians 6-14 4-4 20, William 3-4 3-4 9, Bibby
Mississippi State 95, Nicholls 50 MISSISSIPPI STATE (37-1): McCowan MISSISSIPPI STATE (35-1): McCowan 11-
7-12 7-9 21, Johnson 2-6 2-2 7, Schaefer 0-3 11 2-2 24, Johnson 5-10 2-2 12, Schaefer 0-2 1-3 0-0 2, Garvin 1-4 0-0 2, Campbell 2-2 0-0
Second Round 4, Danberry 2-4 2-2 6, Holmes 1-3 3-4 5, Scott
Monday, March 19 0-0 0, Vivians 11-21 1-3 25, William 2-8 5-6 10, 0-0 0, Vivians 5-11 2-2 14, William 4-10 4-4 13, 0-1 0-0 0, Tate 2-5 0-0 5, Totals 31-62 24-30 95.
At Starkville Bibby 0-5 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Danber- Bibby 1-3 1-1 3, Garvin 0-1 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 Nicholls 13 11 13 13 —50
Mississippi State 71, Oklahoma State 56 ry 3-6 4-5 10, Holmes 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 25-62 0-0 0, Danberry 1-3 1-2 3, Holmes 1-2 0-0 2, Mississippi State 21 33 26 15 —95
Regional Semifinals 19-25 73. Tate 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-53 12-13 71. 3-Point Goals—Nicholls 6-25 (Barrios 1-5,
Louisville 11 19 18 11 4 — 63 N.C. State 15 16 10 16 —57 Charles 1-8, Williams 4-9, Williams 0-3), MSU
Friday, March 23 9-19 (Johnson 1-3, Schaefer 3-7, Vivians 4-6,
At Kansas City, Missouri Mississippi State 13 18 15 13 14 —73 Mississippi St. 19 17 22 13 —71
3-Point Goals—Louisville 4-20 (Fuehring 3-Point Goals—N.C. State 3-11 (Nelson Bibby 0-1, Garvin 0-1, Tate 1-1). Assists—Nich-
Mississippi State 71, North Carolina State 57 olls 8 (Lilly 2), MSU18 (Holmes 5). Fouled Out—
UCLA 84, Texas 75 0-2, Hines-Allen 1-3, Carter 0-5, Durr 3-9, Ev- 0-2, Ealey 0-1, Konig 1-5, Leslie 2-2, Cassell Nicholls Lilly, Williams, Rebounds—Nicholls 29
Regional Championship ans 0-1), Mississippi State 4-15 (Johnson 1-3, 0-1), Mississippi State 3-11 (Johnson 0-3, (Lilly 9), MSU 51 (McCowan 13). Total Fouls—
Sunday, March 25 Schaefer 0-2, Vivians 2-5, William 1-3, Bibby Schaefer 0-2, Vivians 2-2, William 1-2, Bibby Nicholls 26, MSU 12. A—10,211.
Mississippi State 89, UCLA 73 0-2). Assists—Louisville 7 (Carter 3), Mississip- 0-2). Assists—N.C. State 7 (Konig 4), Missis-
pi State 9 (William 4). Fouled Out—Louisville sippi State 14 (William 8). Rebounds—N.C. USA Today Women’s Top 25
FINAL FOUR First-place votes in parentheses, final
At Columbus, Ohio Fuehring, Carter, Mississippi State Vivians. State 30 (Ealey 8), Mississippi State 28 (Mc-
records, points and previous ranking:
National Semifinals Rebounds—Louisville 38 (Jones 9), Mississippi Cowan 15). Total Fouls—N.C. State 11, Mis- Rec. Pts Pvs
Friday, March 30 State 46 (McCowan 25). Total Fouls—Louisville sissippi State 16. Technical Fouls—N.C. State 1. Notre Dame (32) 35-3 800 6
Mississippi State 73, Louisville 63, OT 22, Mississippi State 14. Technical Fouls—Lou- TEAM 1. A—4,280. 2. Mississippi State 37-2 764 4
Notre Dame 91, Connecticut 89, OT isville Fuehring. A—19,564. Mississippi State 71, 3. UConn 36-1 738 1
National Championship 4. Louisville 36-3 706 3
Oklahoma State 56 5. Oregon 33-5 666 5
Sunday, April 1 Mississippi State 89, UCLA 73 OKLAHOMA STATE (21-11): Coleman 4-7 6. South Carolina 29-7 604 7
Notre Dame 61, Mississippi State 58 UCLA (27-8): Billings 5-16 2-2 12, Drum- 2-2 12, Jensen 7-16 3-3 18, Goodwin 4-14 5-6 7. UCLA 27-8 590 9
Notre Dame 61, mer 1-4 0-0 2, Burke 4-6 3-4 12, Canada 6-18 14, Hobbs 0-1 0-0 0, Miller 5-12 1-2 12, Holt 0-0 8. Oregon State 26-8 567 12
Mississippi State 58 10-12 23, Hayes 0-2 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-0 0, 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Winchester 0-0 0-0 0, 9. Baylor 33-2 555 2
NOTRE DAME (35-3): Shepard 8-10 3-3 Onyenwere 3-7 2-2 8, Dean 6-14 0-0 16, Horvat Castro 0-1 0-0 0, Wheeler 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 20- 10. Texas 28-7 470 8
0-0 0-0 0, Totals 25-67 17-20 73. 11. Texas A&M 26-10 451 14
19, Westbeld 2-4 2-2 6, Mabrey 3-9 3-3 10, 51 11-13 56. 12. Duke 24-9 389 18
Ogunbowale 6-21 5-7 18, Young 2-7 2-2 6, Nel- MISSISSIPPI STATE (36-1): McCowan MISSISSIPPI STATE (34-1): McCowan 13. Stanford 24-11 363 19
son 1-1 0-0 2, Totals 22-52 15-17 61. 7-15 9-11 23, Johnson 3-8 4-4 12, Schaefer 3-4 8-12 5-7 21, Johnson 2-7 0-0 5, Schaefer 2-8 14. Florida State 26-7 337 11
MISSISSIPPI STATE (37-2): McCowan 7-19 0-0 9, Vivians 10-17 3-5 24, William 4-9 7-7 17, 0-0 5, Vivians 9-20 4-4 23, William 7-17 3-4 17, 15. Ohio State 28-7 323 10
4-8 18, Johnson 1-6 0-0 3, Schaefer 2-5 0-0 6, Bibby 0-0 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Danberry Bibby 0-1 0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Danberry 16. N.C. State 26-9 318 22
Vivians 8-18 4-5 21, William 3-4 0-0 6, Bibby 0-2 1-1 0-0 2, Holmes 1-4 0-0 2, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, 0-1 0-0 0, Holmes 0-1 0-0 0, Scott 0-0 0-0 0, 17. Tennessee 25-8 298 13
0-0 0, Campbell 0-0 0-0 0, Danberry 1-5 0-2 2, Tate 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 29-58 23-27 89. Tate 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-67 12-15 71. 18. Maryland 26-8 238 16
Holmes 0-0 2-2 2, Totals 22-59 10-17 58. 19. Georgia 26-7 213 17
UCLA 17 9 24 23 —73 Oklahoma State 20 14 11 11 —56 20. Central Michigan 30-5 201 —
Notre Dame 14 3 24 20 —61 Mississippi State 23 19 21 26 —89 Mississippi State 16 19 20 16 —71 21. Buffalo 29-6 166 —
Mississippi State 17 13 11 17 —58
3-Point Goals—UCLA 6-19 (Drummer 0-1, 3-Point Goals—Oklahoma State 5-17 (Cole- 22. Missouri 24-8 159 15
3-Point Goals—Notre Dame 2-9 (Shepard
0-1, Westbeld 0-1, Mabrey 1-4, Ogunbowale 1-3), Burke 1-2, Canada 1-5, Hayes 0-1, Onyenwere man 2-4, Jensen 1-5, Goodwin 1-3, Hobbs 0-1, 23. DePaul 27-8 138 23
Mississippi State 4-16 (Johnson 1-5, Schaefer 2-5, 0-1, Dean 4-9), Mississippi State 8-13 (Johnson Miller 1-3, Castro 0-1), Mississippi State 3-10 24. South Florida 26-8 74 20
2-3, Schaefer 3-3, Vivians 1-4, William 2-3). As- (Johnson 1-2, Schaefer 1-5, Vivians 1-2, William 25. Florida Gulf Coast 31-5 63 —
Vivians 1-5, William 0-1). Assists—Notre Dame Also Receiving Votes: Green Bay 45,
8 (Shepard 2), Mississippi State 9 (Danberry 3). sists—UCLA 11 (Canada 5), Mississippi State 0-1). Assists—Oklahoma State 12 (Goodwin 8),
Oklahoma State 27, Indiana 25, Mercer 23,
Fouled Out—Mississippi State McCowan. Re- 15 (Johnson 5). Fouled Out—UCLA Drummer, Mississippi State 12 (Johnson 4). Rebounds— Quinnipiac 12, Marquette 11, Michigan 11,
bounds—Notre Dame 35 (Westbeld 9), Mississip- Rebounds—UCLA 33 (Canada 8), Mississippi Oklahoma State 31 (Goodwin 9), Mississippi State Belmont 10, Minnesota 9, Miami 8, Syracuse 7,
pi St. 38 (McCowan 17). Total Fouls—Notre Dame State 39 (McCowan 21). Total Fouls—UCLA 41 (McCowan 18). Total Fouls—Oklahoma State Virginia 6, Virginia Tech 5, Villanova 4, LSU 3,
17, Mississippi State 21. A—19,599. 22, Mississippi State 14. A—4,089. 17, Mississippi State 13. A—9,881. Nicholls 2, Little Rock 1.

Overall Individual Statistics
# Player GP GS Min FG 3PT FT Scoring Reb PF AST TO STL BLK
35 Vivians, Victoria 39 39 1222 31.3 295 608 .485 69 171 .404 114 141 .809 773 19.8 54 184 238 6.1 81 73 61 56 12
15 McCowan, Teaira 39 39 1191 30.5 286 476 .601 0 0 .000 138 218 .633 710 18.2 237 307 544 13.9 98 18 79 32 81
11 Johnson, Roshunda 39 39 1167 29.9 158 372 .425 76 182 .418 50 57 .877 442 11.3 38 77 115 2.9 70 93 44 74 6
1 Schaefer, Blair 39 39 1250 32.1 112 279 .401 97 235 .413 32 36 .889 353 9.1 18 54 72 1.8 73 71 37 17 3
2 William, Morgan 39 39 982 25.2 98 240 .408 15 51 .294 107 124 .863 318 8.2 17 46 63 1.6 61 176 48 32 9
10 Holmes, Jazzmun 39 0 578 14.8 55 117 .470 1 3 .333 54 71 .761 165 4.2 14 42 56 1.4 46 105 38 45 9
4 Williams, Ameshya 1 0 15 15.0 2 5 .400 0 0 .000 0 0 .000 4 4.0 1 4 5 5.0 1 0 2 3 2
55 Bibby, Chloe 37 0 505 13.6 52 138 .377 15 47 .319 27 33 .818 146 3.9 25 54 79 2.1 33 14 33 13 4
24 Danberry, Jordan 31 0 298 9.6 35 96 .365 1 2 .500 15 28 .536 86 2.8 15 25 40 1.3 35 34 22 22 4
25 Campbell, Zion 38 0 358 9.4 33 51 .647 0 0 .000 11 18 .611 77 2.0 24 64 88 2.3 43 8 16 9 15
23 Scott, Bre'Amber 23 0 123 5.3 11 34 .324 0 10 .000 17 25 .680 39 1.7 9 10 19 0.8 14 8 15 11 1
20 Tate, Nyah 21 0 71 3.4 13 29 .448 4 9 .444 2 4 .500 32 1.5 1 7 8 0.4 2 0 6 1 0
21 Garvin, Jonika 15 0 65 4.3 8 28 .286 0 4 .000 3 9 .333 19 1.3 7 13 20 1.3 10 2 7 1 1
Total 39 7825 200.6 1158 2473 .468 278 714 .389 570 764 .746 3164 81.13 524 959 1483 38.0 567 602 421 316 147
Opponents 7825 200.6 836 2141 .390 152 524 .290 375 504 .744 2199 56.38 394 876 1270 32.6 762 349 716 179 114

22 The Dispatch
Season facts
39 Most games (tied)
37 Most wins
94.9 Best winning percentage (37-2)
16 Most Southeastern Conference wins
8 Most SEC road wins
30 Most regular-season wins
4 Most 100-point games
32 Longest winning streak
18 Longest home winning streak
16 Longest away winning streak
16 Longest SEC winning streak
111 Most points in a SEC game
(vs. Arkansas)

36 Most points in a quarter, 1Q at UNLV
3,164 Most points in a season
81.1 Highest season scoring average (tied)
1,483 Most rebounds in a season
1,158 Most field goals in a season
65.6  Highest field goal percentage in a
game (vs. Georgia State)

278 Most 3-point field goals in a season
Highest 3-point field goal percentage in
a season

Highest free throw percentage in a

602 Most assists in a season

421 Fewest turnovers in a season
Final Words
hen it was announced the Mississippi State women’s basket-
ball team would return to campus shortly after noon April 2,
you almost felt like you should bring a casserole, a southern
tradition that has followed in the wake of a tragic event.
MSU was coming home from Columbus, Ohio, still stinging from
a last-second, 61-58 loss to Notre Dame in the championship game of
the NCAA Division I tournament. The setback denied it the honor of
becoming the first athletic team in school history to win a national
Unlike the previous year, when a loss to South Carolina in the
championship game was soothed by an historic victory against four-
time reigning national champion Connecticut in the semifinals, there
was no balm in Gilead for MSU, nothing to ease the sting of what
might have been — perhaps should have been.
If ever the stars seemed aligned for the Bulldogs, it was that Eas-
ter evening in Columbus.
Championship teams are built on a blend of talent and experi-
ence. MSU had both, with four seniors — Roshunda Johnson, Blair
Schaefer, Victoria Vivians, and Morgan William — who were in
their second-straight trip to the championship game, and one of the
most dominant centers — Teaira McCowan — in the women’s game.
Schaefer, Vivians, and William also made history by being the first
class in program history to make four trips to the NCAA tournament.
Add to the equation the opportunity to win the championship
without beating mighty UConn, and it seemed almost a certainty. It
appeared to be playing out that way, too. MSU led by 15 points in the
second quarter and by five with less than two minutes remaining.
Bulldog fans and players could taste the title.
We all know how it turned out.
Following Arike Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer with 0.1 second left, MSU
players trudged home, greeted by fans whose disappointment was
disguised in hugs and smiles.
Yet the prevailing, if unspoken, sentiment that consumed the first
hours following the loss was one of fatalism: If the Bulldogs couldn’t
win a title under these circumstances, could they expect to win one?
And if, ever, when? It will take time to assemble the kind of talented
experience MSU put on the floor against Notre Dame.
So close. So disappointing. So, what now?
Slowly, a new sentiment has emerged. The best optimism is of the
stubborn variety, and there is a stubborn belief that there’s a national
championship trophy out there with the Bulldogs’ name on it.
If this year’s team scaled the mountain top and caught a glimpse of
the Promised Land, their successors will surely some day cross over.
A man who can’t run a mile can’t run a marathon. This year’s team
ran the distance and fell a step short of glory.
That might be the enduring legacy of the 2017-18 team. A champi-
onship might not have been within its grasp, but it is within reach.
The Bulldogs have the ingredients — coach, talent, fan base.
SLIM SMITH Someday, fans will greet the Bulldogs as they return from the
Columnist and feature writer championship game.
The Dispatch No casseroles will be required.

24 The Dispatch