Mississippi State's run ends one win short of National Title


Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs on the offensive end, but struggled shooting from the field, scoring twelve points on 4-16 shooting, 1-5 from three.

Missed shots and turnovers were the story for the next minute and a half.

The Gamecocks would pull even at seven all thanks to a transition basket by Bianca Cuevas-Moore. Each time, an A'Ja Wilson jumper stretched USC's lead to six.

The third time wasn't the charm for Mississippi State. They were also more aggressive on the glass than Mississippi State with a 40-27 advantage.

"Yeah, we were up 7-3 at the beginning. I just wanted to see what they were made of".

"We'd just be the underdogs who got lucky". "There's no (other) way to put it". Did a nice job of attacking us. "A'ja's got her pearl necklace, I've got my net-lace". But I don't think it would have mattered. Auburn in 1989. SC and Mississippi State were each making their first appearance in the national championship game. This pro-MSU crowd would rain boos down on the officials to no avail.

SC led 36-26 at the half and never trailed after the first quarter.

Morgan William: "I was fine".

During a break in the first half of the Mississippi State-South Carolina title game Sunday night, the players were introduced along with some coaches and staff members.

The sideline talk had little impact on the Gamecock momentum. SC hit 25 of 55 shots from the field (45.5 percent), 0 of 3 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 17 of 22 shots from the foul line (77.3 percent). Chenwie Okorie would sink a shot from just outside the free throw line to cut the Carolina lead to nine.

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Unfortunately, her efforts did not slow down the SC offense. After twenty minutes of Championship basketball, the Gamecocks would lead by ten, 36-26.

Wilson had 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for SC.

Allisha Gray and A'ja Wilson scored 11 points apiece for SC, which trailed 7-1 early before taking its first lead on two free throws by Doniyah Cliney with 24 seconds left in the first quarter.

State would rachet up the pressure out of the huddle. SC never got closer and the All-American Wilson finished with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting with 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. Instead, Schaefer turned to sophomore Jazzmun Holmes in the game's final quarter.

SC beat Stanford 62-53 on Friday to reach the championship game.

"We cut it to 54-50". "That just made me very, very emotional". "For some reason, it feels like an SEC championship, I guess, because we played Mississippi State".

After the game, Schaefer took responsibility for the Bulldogs losing. The Gamecocks coasted toward the finish line as they defeated Mississippi State for the third time, 67-55 to win the national title.

"A'ja is a great player".

"It's a wonderful thing that's shared amongst all of my former players, former coaches, colleagues, former teammates, everybody", Staley said Tuesday.

In her ninth year at South Carolina, Staley has posted a remarkable 221-80 record - including a 97-45 mark against conference foes.

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"I can understand why LeBron went back home and got himself a ring", she said. Six-foot-five-inch Wilson, who scored eight of her game-high 23 points that final quarter, came out in force with rebounds and blocked shots.

For now, it's enough that the Gamecocks are champions of college basketball. It goes all the way back to her days in the Camille Cosby-Gladys Rodgers Female League which was a part of the Sonny Hill League program. These kids deserve all the credit for that. In 2008, she moved on to SC, but her teams struggled through two losing seasons before winning more games than it lost. "Only one of them walked off that floor the victor".

So I wanted to hear Schaefer's explanation before offering an opinion on what happened. "The ones that believe in what we're doing, they have success here". SC was up 31-18. The Gamecocks have won 11 straight in the series against the Bulldogs.

So who would be crowned the national champion?

This is how it goes sometimes in the NCAA tournament.

"Appreciate everybody being here today". "They played really hard against us". "It wasn't that we didn't try. If something is a goal of yours, don't give up on it", Staley said.

"But we'll be back".

Meaning, perhaps, Mississippi State, or SC - enjoy tonight while you can.

For their efforts on the weekend. both Vivians and William were named to the All Tournament team.

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