By Karintha Styles
After advancing to Mississippi State’s first Elite Eight in school history Coach Vic Schaefer talked about the win and how the Bulldogs were able to outlast the Huskies. “I’m awfully proud of my kids tonight. They just really played extremely well. That’s a heck of a basketball team. Mike, as I told y’all the day before yesterday, he’s a tremendous coach, one of the best. What he’s done with Kelsey Plum is really incredible. I mean, she’s the best offensive player in the history of the game.”
Mississippi State controlled the boards and outrebounded Washington 49-34. The Bulldogs scored 25 points off of second looks at the basket. Mississippi State held Washington to 5 of 17 shooting in the fourth quarter. Plum made 3 of 7 from the field.
“Our kids were special today. No question about it. Dom came in and was Dominique. She’s one of the best in the country. It’s a reason why she’s been on the all-defenses team in the Southeastern Conference two straight years. Did really a tremendous job on Plum.”
The bench was the difference in the game. The Bulldogs’ bench contributed 23 points. The Huskies by comparison, had 0 production from the bench and only 8-second chance points.
Mississippi State’s depth can be attributed to coach Schaefer’s genius. Prior to the start of the tournament, Schaefer sat 4 of his starters and started 4 players who had been coming off the bench. Mike Neighbors head coach of the Washington Huskies talked about the risky move. ” The subs came have come in and did not do anything but what they were doing when they were starters. Now you have a team that’s really deep. I think he knows his team as well as any coach in the country right now,” said Neighbors.
Kelsey Plum lead all scorers with 29 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Teaira McCown lead Mississippi State with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists. McCowan also had 12 rebounds and a career-high six blocks.
University of Washington
Early on it looked like it was going to be Washington’s night. Kelsey Plum hit a 3 pointer to open the game. The Huskies controlled most of the first half. Washington had a few runs where they came close but in the end, the Bulldogs had more depth and firepower. “They’re a very good defensive team. I thought Dillingham did a very good job on me. She just stayed down and contested late on sots. She blocked a couple of ’em, tipped a couple of ’em. Just made it difficult on me,” said senior guard and Naismith finalist Kelsey Plum.
Plum, the NCAA’s all-time scoring leader, talked about her career after her final game in a Huskie uniform, “I’m so grateful to have been able to go to the University of Washington,” she said. “You know, when I first came on campus, I had big dreams, dreams for our program, dreams as an individual. A lot of them came true.”
Last year Mississippi State’s season after a 60 point loss to UCONN in the Sweet Sixteen. The Bulldogs face the Baylor Bears Sunday at 6:30 pm CST. Sunday’s winner will face the champion coming out of the Connecticut Regional in the Final Four in Dallas.