Bulldogs’ Run Ends in Second Round of NCAA Tournament
Credit Mississippi State Athletics
Playing their third game in five days, the Mississippi State Bulldogs ran out of gas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs dropped a 53-48 heartbreaker to First and Second round host Notre Dame on Sunday.
The Bulldogs finished the season with a 22-11 record after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2019. After a back-and-forth first half that saw the Bulldogs trail by just three going into halftime, 23-26, State struggled to keep the game close in the third quarter, allowing the Irish to extend their lead to 8 after outsourcing MSU 15-10.
The Bulldogs didn’t go away and fought till the end, scoring the first eight points of the 4th, behind a pair of threes from Kourtney Weber, to tie the game 41 all. Notre Dame got the final swing with a 5-0 run with 1:15 left to play which proved to be the difference in the 53-48 final score.
Kourtney Weber came in clutch for State, scoring 14 points with four rebounds, tying her season-high in points. Weber was the game’s first player from either side to knock down a three-point shot, which brought the Bulldogs within three. Not long after hitting her first three, Weber put up another three-point shot tying the game (41-41) and bringing the State bench alive.
Ahlana Smith, Kourtney Weber, Anastasia Hayes and Asianae Johnson all played their final college game in a Mississippi State uniform tonight. Smith scored four points and had two assists. Weber showed out in her last game in the uniform, knocking down 14 points. Hayes fought hard, knocking down six points and dishing out two assists. Johnson led the way for the Bulldogs in steals with two while scoring four points on the night.
- After a combined 19 three-point attempts, Kourtney Weber knocked down the first three-pointer of the game at the 9:05 mark in the fourth quarter
- State was outrebounded 49-32 by the Irish
- The Bulldogs were outscored in the paint 30-18
- Neither team had a player score in double-figures until Weber knocked down her second three-point shot of the day, tying the game in the fourth quarter with six minutes left
- The Bulldog defense held Notre Dame to 0% shooting from the three-point line; the last time State did that was against LSU on Feb. 26
- State’s bench outscored the Irish 20-7
Quoting Coach Sam Purcell
“As I reflect now that the year is officially done, a question comes to mind that everybody’s asked me. What’s the hardest thing being a first-year coach? I honestly had no answer because we went so hard in this program that it was the best thing and the best environment ever. To answer that question, is this right here, This team is so special. These seniors are so special. What we did was so special. You got a program that a lot of people around the country said it’s done, it had its glory years, but these young women were an absolute joy to coach. They gave their heart and their soul. They were a great representation of Mississippi State and the university. Most importantly, they’re winners on and off the court. This was a game where, what a week. I want to thank the community of South Bend. This has been nothing but first class. I want to congratulate Notre Dame and its program, they are also first-class. Tonight was just a night where you’ve got a third game in a week. The first two were just shooting the ball like no other, and things were going well, but you have to give credit to Notre Dame’s defense. They’re long and they make us take some rush shots. For us to make a run, it was just fitting of who we are. We’ve bent, we’ve had bad moments but we never broke. They laid it on the line and we had a chance at the end. We just came a couple of free throws short and a couple of layups short but that’s life. I told them in the locker room I couldn’t more proud to be their head coach. What they did to get this program back and special things are gonna come. This is not just a one-year thing for us. We plan on getting back here.”