/Whew! It’s on to Kansas City for 34-1 State

Whew! It’s on to Kansas City for 34-1 State

STARKVILLE — Vic Schaefer signaled officials to call a timeout with his team leading 71-60 by 24.6 seconds. Schaefer did not need to speak to his players. He wanted to cheer them on. A crowd of 9,881 mostly Mississippi State fans in maroon were happy to oblige. State’s starters, starting with Victoria Vivians, walked off to thunderous applause, followed by a bear hug from their coach. He was in tears. The seniors Vivians (Morgan William, Roshunda John, Blair Schaefer, and Teaira McCowan) had all won basketball’s version a curtain call, and the applause. They took Oklahoma State’s best shot, fired back and won a hard-earned victory of 71-56 and a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16! The Bulldogs are now 34-1 and head to Kansas City for a third consecutive Sweet 16. On Friday, State will take on North Carolina State at 6 p.m. via ESPN. Sports writers and announcers may sometimes overuse the term “hard-earned.” This night, it really fitted the bill. Oklahoma State’s Cowgirls led by eight points at the half. They were ahead of the Bulldogs by as much as eight in the second half. State has a difficult matchup with their tall, fast guards and Kaylee Jensen (post player), who can shoot from 3-point range. This allows McCowan to be pulled away from the basket by McCowan, State’s 6-foot-7 All American. Vic Schaefer described Oklahoma State as “a great basketball team.” They are so tough to deal with. We …. find them a very difficult matchup. Oklahoma State kept coming at Oklahoma State, and we answered every bell.” Oklahoma State raced to a 20-12 lead after seven minutes. They made a variety of acrobatic shots. Blair Schaefer made a huge, contested jump shot that cut the lead to 20-14. William scored a layup after an OSU turnover to reduce the lead to 20-16. The Cowgirls were not satisfied. They didn’t stop coming. After a back-and-forth second quarter, Blair Schaefer swung a big bucket, a 3-pointer, giving the Bulldogs a 35 to 34 halftime lead. The Cowgirls continued to come back in the third quarter, until several events changed the game. * OSU star LorynGoodwin scored 14 points, eight assists and nine rebounds, while picking up her fourth personal foul. Braxtin Miller (the Cowgirls’ brilliant freshman guard) fell and injures her knee. This forced her to miss several minutes of play and severely limited her ability to continue the game. * State began getting the ball in to McGowan and took control of the game scoring 12 points and taking six rebounds during the third quarter. The Bulldogs extended their lead at halftime to one point and made it 10 points by the end of the third quarter. McCowan would be told by Vic Schaefer, “If she isn’t a first-team All-American I don’t know what is,” He could have said it for Vivians who was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 23 points, six rebounds, and four assists. She was a tremendous defensive player, far better than she was three-years ago. Jim Littell, OSU coach, stated that there is no matchup for Vivians. It’s difficult to defend when you can score at three levels. She can score at the basket, has a good intermediate game, and can shoot the 3-pointer. It’s hard to defend. Littell stated that “We were defeated by a very, very strong team.” Oklahoma State tried. State continued to fire back. William, a tiny point guard, had one of her best games at The Hump. In a fast-paced game, she scored 17 points and had two assists. She also did not make a single turnover. Vic Schaefer said that Morgan “dictated the entire game.” “She kept the game moving and had the best defensive game of her life.” Vic Schaefer continued, “What a blessing for our seniors to be able to walk that far on the stage at their last home game.” They are exceptional. They have changed my life as a coach as well as as a person. The whole team is exceptional.”