The only word any Bulldog anywhere could think of was stunned. As a matter of fact, speechless could be an even better description. Just when superstars Teaira McCowan and Victoria Vivians had Mississippi State in control, the Irish flipped the script in the blink of an eye. Ogunbowale has been a superstar all year, and her consecutive buzzer beaters in Columbus showed why. Though this is a tough pill to swallow, coach Vic Schaefer and the Bulldogs will be back sooner rather than later.
While McCowan was her usual self with 18 points, 17 boards, two steals, and two blocks, Notre Dame implemented the perfect strategy to take her out of the game when it mattered most. McCowan was battling foul trouble, thus on the bench at the game’s most crucial moment. Mississippi State held their breath during her walk off the floor, as the Irish had the clear advantage late. That said, the Bulldogs were on point defensively, and it simply came down to one final play that snatched the hearts of those in and around the Mississippi State community.
Vivians was sensational on both ends of the floor, as she carried this team on her back alongside McCowan. She posted 21 points, nine rebounds, and four steals. Vivians has been an offensive force throughout her four-year campaign at Mississippi State and will continue at the next level. Vivians is a rare talent, and although she ended on a low, her pro career will begin on a high.
The Bulldogs were plagued by foul trouble all game, as the entire starting lineup picked up at least three. Though the saying is that defense wins championships, Notre Dame’s offense gave it a whole new meaning. The Irish ran Mississippi State out of the building when down by double-digits, as the Bulldogs relaxed a bit too much late.
Notre Dame’s big three combined for 47 points, as Ogunbowale, Jessica Shepard, and Marina Mabrey could simply not be stopped in the closing minutes. Blair Schaefer and Morgan William had six a piece, and Roshunda Johnson was nowhere to be found with just three points. Everybody knew the Irish had something in store as the game wained, and Ogunbowale simply showed up.
But let’s look at the bright side. Mississippi State has a great roster going into next season, as Juzzmun Holmes, Myah Taylor, Chloe Bibby highlight a promising group. If there is any coach in college basketball that knows how to bounce back, it’s coach Vic, plain and simple. While this heartbreak of a loss will sting throughout the offseason, make no mistake that the Bulldogs will back, and regarded as a strong contender when it matters most.