After a 60-50 win over UT Chattanooga in the 1st round of the NCAA Starkville pod, Mississippi State defeated Michigan State in thrilling fashion, 74-72.
It was a back and forth battle in the beginning of the game, with the Bulldogs leading 19-17 after the 1st quarter. It remained that way through the first half of the 2nd, but Mississippi State was able to gain some separation, going into halftime with a 40-34 advantage.
The Bulldogs came out smoking hot in the 3rd. State went on an 8-2 run to start the 2nd half, holding on to a 48-35 lead with 7:27 to go in the 3rd quarter. After that, State went on a cold streak of all cold streaks. After Victoria Vivians hit a three with 5:55 to go in the 3rd to take a 51-38 lead, the good MSU didn't score again until 6:44 left in the game. Michigan State went on a 23-0 run to take a 58-51 lead. All momentum was on their side, and it seemed like Mississippi State was going to be eliminated in the 2nd round once again.
But, the Bulldogs kept fighting. After Victoria Vivians hit a three to cut the Spartan lead to four, State found life. Breanna Richardson hit a layup and one to make it a one point game, followed by a Morgan William steal and another Richardson layup to give State a 61-60 lead. The two teams dueled for the next three minutes, and the game was tied at 69 with 1:37 remaining. Victoria Vivians missed a three and Michigan State missed a shot of their own, giving the Bulldogs the ball.
What followed will go down in Bulldog lore forever. Breanna Richardson hit a beyond clutch three with 34 seconds left to take a 72-69 lead. It was far from over, though. The Spartans cut it to 74-72 and had possession but missed a couple of shots, giving Mississippi State the victory.
This game was all Victoria Vivians and Breanna Richardson. Vivians put together a 24 point game and hit five threes. Breanna Richardson scored 12 and hit the clutch three that helped the Bulldogs win.
With this win, Mississippi State is headed to their second sweet 16 appearance in program history, the first since 2010. We will more than likely play 1 seed UConn (unless Duquesne upsets them, but that's far from likely), so the ladies will have their hands full in Bridgeport.