Notre Dame 61, Mississippi State 58, women's college basketball final

For Starkville Daily News

For the Mississippi State women’s basketball team, it was simply not meant to be.

The Bulldogs held a 15-point lead early in the second half but could not hang on, falling to Notre Dame in the national championship game at Nationwide Arena.

Arike Ogunbowale hit a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left to lift the Fighting Irish to their first national championship in 17 seasons.

MSU finished as the national runner-up for a second straight season. The MSU senior class finishes with a school-record 126 victories and four NCAA Tournament appearances.

Both Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan were selected to the All-Final Four team. Vivians averaged 23 points and 6.5 rebounds, while McCowan averaged 19.5 points and 21 rebounds.

“This is the toughest, most resilient team I have ever seen,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Their competitive spirit is second to none. Congratulations to Notre Dame, but I am awfully proud of my group. When you are up five with 1:40 to go in the game, it’s my job to get them home and I didn’t get them home. I will wear that maybe for the rest of my career.

“These four seniors are so special. They have done so much for me personally and professionally. This is a high-character classy group of seniors. The integrity of this group is something I haven’t seen. We have great kids in that locker room. We have great kids coming in.

“For the seniors, they will always be a special group for the grit, determination and how they embrace the grind of life, as well as the grind of basketball. It hurts. They played their hearts out. Notre Dame made one more play.”

For Robbie Faulk's coverage of the championship game, see Monday's sports page of the Starkville Daily News or continue reading