The Mississippi State women’s basketball team was set to win the first national championship in school history in 2018.
The Bulldogs led Notre Dame by 13 points in the second half, only to see the Irish tie it up before winning the national championship on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
The biggest moment of the game, for Bulldog fans, was what happened right before the buzzer-beater. Point guard Morgan William was dribbling down the court and had the ball stolen from her by a Notre Dame player in a play where many people believe a foul should have been called.
Teaira McCowan then fouled out to stop a fast break, and Notre Dame’s buzzer-beater followed shortly.
What if a foul was called against Notre Dame in that sequence?
Would Mississippi State have won its first national title? It’s very possible. That would have given the Bulldogs the ball with less than five seconds left and the game tied, 58-58.
McCowan would not have fouled out, and at worst, the Bulldogs would have taken a tie into overtime. There’s a good chance that game didn’t make it to overtime, though.
MSU had already hit two big shots in the NCAA tournament – the game-winner against UConn the year before and against Louisville in the Final Four.
The next takeaway for the “what if” is if Vic Schaefer would still be Mississippi State’s coach or not. He went 60-9 in two seasons after the national championship game, and then took the head coaching job at the University of Texas after the 2020 season was cut short to COVID-19.
He’s since been replaced by Nikki McCray-Penson, who has yet to coach a game in maroon and white. It is unknown if she can replicate the amount of wins the Bulldogs have grabbed each season with Schaefer, but she hasn’t missed too big of a beat on the recruiting trail.
Since taking over, she has signed two players in the 2020 class and three players for the 2021 class, including a Top 100 player in 2021 point guard Mia Moore.