Four things to know about Notre Dame women's second-round NCAA opponent Mississippi State
SOUTH BEND — Four things to know about No. 11 seed Mississippi State before the Bulldogs (22-10) take on third-seeded Notre Dame (26-5) in Sunday’s 3:30 p.m. second-round NCAA Tournament women’s basketball game at Purcell Pavilion:
Mississippi State is packed with veterans
The Bulldogs, led by a surging veteran trio, have made themselves quite comfortable at Purcell over the last several days with a pair of wins.
Tom Noie:Wrong place, wrong time for Southern Utah as Notre Dame returns to its winning ways in NCAA
On Friday night, they earned a convincing 81-66 victory against sixth-seeded Creighton, after beating Illinois 70-56 in Wednesday’s first-four contest.
Over the two games, 6-5 senior center Jessika Carter scored 36 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked four shots and went 16-of-26 from the field; junior guard and Tulane transfer JerKaila Jordan scored 31 points, made seven steals and drained 4-of-7 on 3-pointers; and grad guard and two-time transfer Anastasia Hayes scored 23 points, dished 12 assists and converted 12-of-13 at the line.
Hayes and Carter have both been All-SEC second-team picks. Jordan was an All-American Athletic Conference first-teamer while with the Green Wave.
On the season, Carter’s averaging 15.0 points, 7.8 boards and 2.1 blocks.
Jordan’s at 12.1 points, Ahlana Smith 9.4, Debreasha Powe 8.4, Asianae Johnson 8.4 and Hayes 8.2.
No relation for MSU coach
Mississippi State coach Sam Purcell is not related to Purcell Pavilion lead underwriter Philip J. Purcell III, but is plenty familiar with the arena.
Besides winning those two NCAA Tourney games there, the first-year head coach spent the previous nine seasons as an assistant to Jeff Walz at Louisville.
During that time, the Cardinals went 2-3 at Purcell Pavilion, winning in each of their last two visits with Sam Purcell aboard, and were 7-6 against Notre Dame overall.
Championship re-match for Bulldogs and Irish
The Bulldogs and Irish have met just once, but what a memorable once that was.
Notre Dame downed State 61-58 in the 2018 national title game in Columbus, Ohio, prevailing on Arike Ogunbowale’s right-wing 3-pointer as time expired.
It was the Bulldogs’ second straight runner-up finish.
They made another deep run in 2019, getting to the Elite Eight in their fifth straight NCAA Tourney appearance under Vic Schaefer (now at Texas), but until this season, they hadn’t been to the Dance since.
Purcell’s their fourth coach in four years counting Schaefer’s final season.
Preview:Notre Dame women must navigate NCAA Tournament path without All-American G Olivia Miles
Nikki McCray-Penson led the team during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, going 10-9, but resigned due to health concerns just before last season, with Doug Novak taking that team to a 15-14 mark on an interim basis.
Bulldogs have turned it around late
Mississippi State’s lost 10 games, but is 7-3 over its last 10 with two of the defeats being 74-59 at No. 9 LSU and 80-69 at No. 24 Tennessee.
The Bulldogs also pushed the country’s unanimous No. 1 club before falling 58-51 to undefeated defending national champion South Carolina on Jan. 8.
Host State led 19-12 after one quarter and trailed just 37-36 late in the third quarter. The final score remains the fewest points the Gamecocks have scored this season.
The Dawgs are 24th nationally in points-per-possession defense, 68th on offense and 29th in margin among 361 Division I teams.
NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Greenville 1 Regional
- WHO: No. 3 Notre Dame (26-5) vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (22-10)
- WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
- WHERE: Purcell Pavilion (9,149), South Bend, Ind.
- WATCH: ESPN.
- LISTEN: WQLQ (99.9 FM; link at UND.com).
Results from South Bend
7 p.m.: No. 11 Mississippi State 70, No. 11 Illinois 56
No. 3 Notre Dame 82, No. 14 Southern Utah 56
No. 11 Mississippi 81, No. 6 Crieghton 66
3:30 p.m.: No. 3 Notre Dame (26-5) vs. No. 11 Mississippi State (22-10). Winner advances to the Greenville, S.C. Regional