Monday, April 3, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
National Championship brings Mississippi State fans together at The Hump
Despite the end result, Sunday saw droves of fans pour into Humphrey Coliseum on the Mississippi State University campus to cheer on the Lady Bulldogs as they played South Carolina in the NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship. The event was free to the public and the game was broadcast live over the large scoreboard in the middle of the coliseum. At one point, a live stream of the cheering crowd was broadcast to the millions watching the game on ESPN. Cowbells clattered and fans participated in the wide range of arena traditions, from cellphone lights swaying to a Journey song, to a giant wave that brought fans out of their seats. MSU would go on to lose the contest 67-55, but that didn't stop fans from turning out and showing their support in the hopes the Bulldogs would make their dreams a reality.
Starkville celebrates Bulldog's historic season
As Bulldog fans filed out of Humphrey Coliseum Sunday after the team's loss to South Carolina, "Hail State" chants could still be heard. "It's an unconditional love I guess is what you can say," Mississippi State sophomore Madeline Castle said. "No matter what we'll still be here next season." An hour before tipoff, fans were lined up around the coliseum. Inside, the jumbotron was lowered to the floor giving everyone in Starkville the second-best seat, next to being in Dallas. The cowbells we're loud and the chants were passionate. Just like any other game day in Starkville. Win or lose, the mentality within the Starkville community was that this team's accomplishments wouldn't be measured by a win Sunday evening. Their record-setting season brought passion to a fan base and set a new standard of excellence for Mississippi State women's basketball.
At Mississippi State, SEC universities collaborate on water's future
A collaborative conversation at Mississippi State University on water is yielding discussions that could change the world, and researchers are saying that change is critical for meeting increased water needs around the globe. About 200 people participated recently in the 2017 SEC Academic Conference hosted by MSU. The conference highlighted how water poses some of the world's most complex scientific and social challenges. Research, technology and innovation are keys to making progress in water utilization issues, MSU President Mark E. Keenum said at the conference. "We have no choice as human kind. We have to be looking for ways to survive and do it in the most efficient and effective ways possible. That's why this conference is so important," said Keenum, who is serving a term as president of the SEC.
International Fiesta brings flavors, flags and fun to Mississippi State
Mississippi State University celebrated diversity and provided Starkville with a multicultural experience Saturday at its International Fiesta. The brick walkways that cross the Drill Field beneath the large U.S. flag were crowded with people and booths that represented all ethnicities who participated. The stations were planned and created by students from different associations, representing countries all over the world. The cross-cultural event had festive, educational, and unifying facets to it. While visiting a booth, one could see the colors and fashions from across the globe. Patrons could enjoy a cup of traditional tea or cuisine from the culture represented. Those participating were also present to share more information about their country, culture, and traditions.
Mississippi State Hosts International Fiesta
Starkville and Mississippi State are celebrating diversity. The International Fiesta was held Saturday on the MSU campus. Highlights of the fiesta included musical performances, fashion shows, and global cuisines. The annual Fiesta provides opportunities to interact with people of different nationalities and backgrounds. Organizers hope the Fiesta offers a broader understanding of various cultures, something they say is crucial in today's political climate. The International Fiesta is sponsored by MSU's Holmes Cultural Diversity Center. This year marks the event's 27th anniversary.
Mississippi State senior receives national scholarship
A Mississippi State University senior will receive the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. A press release from the university says engineering major Jackson Coole will receive the award. The Picayune native is the third Mississippi State student in the past six years to get the scholarship. Coole plans to get a doctorate and then teach in academia. Senior Sabrina Moore, who is double majoring in chemistry and microbiology, got honorable mention. She is the school's eighth student in the past six years to get that recognition.
Jerry Gilbert named Distinguished Engineering Fellow at Mississippi State
Marshall University President Jerome A. Gilbert has been named a 2017 Distinguished Fellow in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. The prestigious Distinguished Fellows program celebrates the accomplishments of Bagley College alumni and reconnects the honorees with the school and its engineering heritage. The award was presented yesterday evening at a banquet in Starkville, Miss. Gilbert, who graduated from Mississippi State in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in biological engineering, said he was humbled by the recognition. "To be acknowledged among respected colleagues by my alma mater is special," said Gilbert.
Municipal candidates scramble for funds ahead of primary
The date is creeping up for the May 2 primary in Starkville and funds are flowing as candidates look to shore up support on their way to office. Not all candidates have filed campaign finance reports, with the 2017 deadline for primary pre-election report filing set for April 25. This covers funds received or dolled out from Jan. 1, 2017, through April 25. All three mayoral candidates qualified as Democrats for the upcoming municipal election, with the potential runoff election slated for May 16. The May 30 General Pre-Election report deadline will still apply for receipts and expenditures from April 23 to May 27. No Republicans qualified to run in the mayoral race. Former naval officer and property manager Lynn Spruill leads the way in terms of funds on the books.
Starkville, MDOT exploring alternatives for North Jackson St. delineators
A future attempt to replace North Jackson Street road delineators with a concrete median may be negated by a lack of space for such an improvement, Mayor Parker Wiseman and Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said. The delineators -- small sticks placed in the middle of the road that prevent traffic from crossing in front of oncoming drivers at the Jackson Street-Highway 182 intersection, near the new Family Dollar -- recently came under fire from Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, who said the devices reduce the area's aesthetics and could cause potential problems for drivers. Last week, Perkins asked Wiseman to consult with Tagert about options to replace the devices, and Tagert confirmed he authorized Mississippi Department of Transportation engineers to begin studying the issue.
Boeing plans $18.7M in radar work at Mississippi factory
The U.S. Air Force has given Chicago-based Boeing Co. an $18.7 million change order to an earlier contract to maintain radar systems for the Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Royal Saudi Air Force. The work is expected be completed by July in Forest, Mississippi, where Raytheon Co. has a military radar factory that employs about 800 people.
Legislature cuts state's college grant program
College students receiving more than one grant from the state will be limited to only one next school year under a new rule passed by the Legislature. Lawmakers included language in the final version of the appropriations bill for the state's financial aid program stating that "no student should receive undergraduate grant aid through more than one state-supported undergraduate program in the same term of enrollment. If a student is eligible for aid through multiple grant programs, the student shall be awarded from the program that awards the larger sum." Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, a conferee on the bill, said the idea came from a meeting with his House counterpart, Rep. Charles Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, and financial aid officers from the Institutions of Higher Learning.
Officials hopeful for MHP allocation despite state's inaction
Two area lawmakers are hopeful legislators will allocate at least $6 million for a new Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop G substation in Starkville during an expected special session after the Mississippi Legislature ended its 2017 regular session Wednesday with many budgetary items left hanging in the balance. A second local request -- a state-level infusion of $500,000 for Starkville Police Department upgrades -- is unlikely at this point, as District 37 Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, said the allocation remains a low-priority item for Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Local representatives have sought a one-time allocation through the state's annual bond bill for a new Troop G base of operations since the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority donated a Cornerstone Park parcel to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety in 2013.
State bond money for local projects in limbo
Local projects counting on state funding may have to wait until next year. The Mississippi legislature adjourned earlier this week without approving a bond bill, which would have provided funding for projects throughout the state. In Columbus, the Riverwalk extension, amphitheater, city hall and proposed children's museum at the Elks Club building on Main Street, are awaiting state funding. However, as District 39 Rep. Jeff Smith, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, noted, legislators are likely to return to Jackson for a special session after failing to approve a budget for the Mississippi Department of Transportation and Attorney General Jim Hood's office.
Major issues remain: Leaders say still productive legislative session
Much of the talk going into the 2017 legislative session from the Republican leadership of the House and Senate centered around transportation needs and the proposed rewrite of the historic Mississippi Adequate Education Program, which is the mechanism that provides state funds to local school districts to help with their basic operation. Both are big undertakings. But the 2017 session was the second of the four-year term. In legislative parlance, the second year of the term is considered the one where big goals are accomplished -- after getting past the complications of the first year and far enough from the next election where any controversial legislation will not be fresh in the minds of the voters. Perhaps the signature event of this session, indeed, most sessions, is the budget. The community colleges and universities sustained much larger cuts – around 10 percent.
What lawmakers did, didn't do in '17 session
Lawmakers ended the 132nd regular session of the Mississippi Legislature last week, leaving Jackson with unfinished business for which Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to call them back into special session before the new budget year begins in July. A standoff between the GOP leaders of the House and Senate over road and bridge funding and internet sales taxes killed the annual Mississippi Department of Transportation and State Aid roads budgets, and an 11th-hour snag also left the attorney general's budget in limbo. The 2017 Mississippi legislative session may be remembered for its continued drastic budget cuts to most state agencies, and more for what lawmakers didn't do than what they did. Lawmakers knew before the start of this session that budget cuts were in the offing. But late-session revenue numbers fell short of even pessimistic predictions. The result was more budget cuts for most agencies -- the sixth or seventh round for many in two years, some now cumulatively in double digits.
HB 1523: Religious liberty or anti-gay? Appeals court will decide
Almost a year after becoming law in Mississippi, the religious objection bill aimed at the gay community will be the focus of oral arguments in a federal appeals court Monday. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi -- which describes the law, House Bill 1523, as one of many enacted recently across the country that discriminates against LGBT people -- looks at HB 1523 as one of the worst and the furthest along within the legal process so far. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Lubbock, Texas, following Gov. Phil Bryant's appeal of a federal judge's decision declaring HB 1523 unconstitutional. In his June order, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said HB 1523 does not, despite its name, honor the nation's tradition of religious freedom. The law has never been enforced.
Court won't revive suit over Confederate-themed state flag
A federal appeals court has blocked an African-American attorney's effort to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the Mississippi state flag. He says he'll take the case to the Supreme Court. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that it would not revive a lawsuit rejected by a lower court. Carlos Moore filed the suit in 2016, saying that the flag is "state-sanctioned hate speech." Moore said he is disappointed with the ruling from the New Orleans-based appeals court, which came less than four weeks after judges there heard arguments for and against reviving the suit. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves dismissed Moore's suit in September, saying Moore lacked legal standing to sue because he failed to show the emblem caused an identifiable legal injury. The appeals court agreed Friday.
Analysis: Mississippi's MLK-Lee day persists after decades
Mississippi and Alabama are the only remaining states with a single holiday, in January, to honor both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee. Arkansas also had the dual holiday for the civil rights leader and the Confederate general, but Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently signed a bill removing Lee as an honoree. The new law also expands requirements for what Arkansas schools will teach children about the Civil War and civil rights. "I expected this debate would divide us, but instead during the debate we listened to each other and the conversation brought us together," Hutchinson said before signing the bill March 21. No bills were filed in Mississippi this year to remove Lee from the state's dual holiday, and some lawmakers say they don't expect to see a change anytime soon.
Jackson building to be named after Alan Nunnelee
The building housing the state Department of Environmental Quality has become the third structure in downtown Jackson slated to be named after a former Northeast Mississippi legislator. Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed into law legislation naming the DEQ building, located on Amite Street, after the late Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo, who served in the state Senate representing Lee and Pontotoc counties. Nunnelee later served in the U.S. House of Representatives. The building housing the Public Employees Retirement System and the structure housing the Mississippi Department of Transportation already are scheduled to be named for Northeast Mississippians.
Goodbye, Gestalt Gardener? Cuts threaten more than NPR
In a Mississippi Delta hamlet that calls itself the "Catfish Capital of the World," public radio is one of Gus Mohamed's constant companions on his long commutes past cotton and soybean fields. One of his favorite shows, "Gestalt Gardener," bears some hallmarks of public broadcasting stereotypes: quirky voices, cheesy music and zealous listeners calling with questions. And it could go off the air because of President Donald Trump's proposal to eliminate federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. "I really don't know what I would listen to," said Mohamed, a 57-year-old Trump voter who isn't convinced the president will get enough support to go through with cuts that would hit Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Students leave mark on new student union at UM
Work is moving along for Ole Miss' new student union and current students are leaving their mark, literally. Workers will install the last beam this weekend on construction of the expansion. And students, along with Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, faculty and staff signed the beam. The new student union will feature more than 150,000 square feet of dining options, study spaces, offices and conference centers. Work is expected to be complete by fall 2018.
UMMC meeting advanced nursing needs
Emily Jones knew since before she started nursing school that she wanted to take care of babies. "In my heart, that had never been a question," said Jones, a Madison resident and patient transport nurse at Wiser Hospital for Women and Infants and Batson Children's Hospital. "As soon as I graduated from nursing school, I wanted to start in the NICU and work with the babies. Once I started working there, I was hungry to know more." Now nurses who have a heart for the most vulnerable patients and are "hungry to know more" once again have access to advanced nursing education within the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The University of Mississippi School of Nursing has added pediatric nurse practitioner and neonatal nurse practitioner to the list of master's in nursing tracks available to prospective students.
Southern Miss students add leadership to their resumes
Corai Jackson has changed her social media habits after attending a Student Leadership Summit earlier this month at the University of Southern Mississippi. The Southern Miss junior no longer posts such things as the status of her relationships or whether she's having personal issues --- things she wouldn't want people she doesn't know to access. "I've changed what I do post, and I don't post what I wouldn't want my mother to see and I don't say things I wouldn't want my mother to hear," she said. Personal branding was one of the topics at March's Student Leadership Summit -- held for the third year by the university's Office of Leadership and Student Involvement. The 56 students involved also learned about service and conflict management -- topics Jackson thinks will help her as she continues her work with various campus organizations.
USM changing lives of Mississippi kids with autism
Autism is part of life for Petal mom Chelsea McKinley. "I have three boys that are on the autism spectrum," McKinley said. "Twins that are 10 and a 9-year-old. We tried everything, and as any parent with autism knows, in Mississippi, there's just not a whole lot of resources." The University of Southern Mississippi is changing that. This May, USM graduates its first students with master's degrees in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. It focuses on systematic interventions, like positive reinforcement, to improve learning and bring about positive and meaningful changes in behavior. "Thankfully we were introduced to the ABA program through USM, and it has completely changed our lives," McKinley said.
Auburn University holds groundbreaking for new performing arts center
Auburn University marked the groundbreaking of its new Performing Arts Center on Saturday by having a program ignited with creativity through music and acting. The event kicked off with a Shakespeare reading from professional actors and Auburn University graduates Thomas Gossom Jr. and Michael O'Neill. Following the reading was a performance from professional musician and Auburn graduate Khari Allen Lee, who is an instructor in the Jazz Department at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts. Lee, who grew up in Auburn, explained what the new center will mean for the community. "To be able to be back home, to come full circle as we embark on building this monument to the arts and to the artists, it is truly indescribable," Lee said. During the ceremony, benefactors John and Rosemary Brown, who are 1957 graduates of the university, were recognized for their $25 million lead gift to help with the construction of the center.
U. of Tennessee begins search for vice president of academic affairs
The University of Tennessee system is seeking its next vice president for academic affairs and student success. The current vice president, Katie High, plans to retire from the position in July after 35 years at the university. "Her vision and ability to cultivate relationships and partnerships, especially with our public and private colleagues across the state, has opened doors for new ventures and impacted students in countless ways," UT Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Tonjanita Johnson said in a news release. UT aims to fill the position by midsummer.
Tennessee college system endorses in-state tuition for undocumented students
Tennessee's largest college system on Friday endorsed legislation that would allow undocumented students to pay the same as many of their peers to attend a public college. State law requires undocumented students to pay out-of-state tuition, which is often two or three times higher than the in-state rates Tennessee residents pay. Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, are sponsoring a bill that would allow most undocumented graduates of Tennessee high schools to pay in-state tuition at schools like Volunteer State Community College or the University of Tennessee. During its quarterly board meeting, the Tennessee Board of Regents -- which oversees the state's community and technical colleges -- voted to support the Republican lawmakers' work. Barbara U. Prescott, a regent from Memphis who pushed the board to support the bill, said the current system turns a wide swath of students away from higher education.
UGA fellowship being established by Charlayne Hunter-Gault and husband
A couple of interesting news items emerged from Saturday's fifth annual Chess & Community Conference at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. At the end of her keynote address, award-winning journalist and UGA alum Charlayne Hunter-Gault announced that she and her husband Ronald are establishing a fellowship she called "Giving Voice to the Voiceless." "It will provide funds to a Georgia Dawg from anywhere in the universe to travel near or far to do as I have tried to do on my journey to the horizons," she said. "...It is my hope that giving voice to the voiceless will affirm ...the voice of people anywhere in the world who want ...freedom, justice and equality for themselves and their people. Ron and I are hoping our gift will amount to a small contribution that will help our students bring light where there is darkness by giving voice to the voiceless." Also, Charles Davis, dean of UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, announced that the college is creating a communications intern position to work solely with Chess & Community.
Conference at Texas A&M helps teachers inspire future engineers
At a time when the United States is facing a shortage of engineers, a conference for K-12 teachers at Texas A&M this week was aimed at bolstering early STEM education -- and maybe, in turn, bolstering the talent and confidence of future Aggie applicants. During the STEM 4 Innovation conference Thursday and Friday, about 100 science and math teachers attended workshops across campus aimed at inspiring interactive curriculum on their own campuses. Conference director Shelly Tornquist said unlike previous conferences put on by the university for high school teachers, the STEM 4 Innovation conference was intentionally open to teachers of all grades. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor for engineering, said for the U.S. to fill the demand for engineers and for Texas A&M to reach its goal of having 25,000 engineers by 2025, students need to become familiar with engineering at a younger age.
U. of Missouri System deals with increasing turnover | Education |
At the beginning of University of Missouri System President Mun Choi's first faculty meeting on March 22, associate professor of law Ben Trachtenberg listed 16 major administrative jobs that have turned over -- some more than once -- since the beginning of November 2015. From the top of the university hierarchy, the list included curators, the president, the MU chancellor, two vice chancellors, seven deans, the athletic director, the football coach and the men's basketball coach. Even then the list was incomplete. "It's been an exciting time," said Trachtenberg, chairman of the faculty council for the past two years. "Not what I signed up for exactly, but an exciting time." As cuts are made, the university may need administrative reorganization or consolidation but combining the jobs of chancellor and president isn't one that should be considered, Trachtenberg said.
HHS secretary proposes cutting reimbursements that fund university-based research
When President Trump proposed a cut of nearly 20 percent in support for the National Institutes of Health, many wondered how the administration would even attempt to find such reductions. The answer emerged in the congressional testimony last week of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who argued the government could save billions without hurting research by cutting back on the overhead reimbursements to colleges and universities. Higher education associations said cutting those reimbursements would have a very real impact on the science conducted on campuses. For some institutions, eliminating support for administrative costs could mean they would find it difficult to continue that research at all, the groups said.
Study: Library directors moving ahead with plans to rethink libraries
Library directors are growing increasingly confident about the directions in which they are moving their organizations, a new study found, but the rest of the campus may not have gotten the memo. The Ithaka S+R Library Survey 2016, released this morning, builds on findings from the 2013 edition. It shows many library directors are becoming comfortable with the idea that the library may no longer be the starting point for research, and that they are forging ahead with plans to further boost libraries' ability to support students and faculty members with their teaching, learning and research. Those plans are facing some resistance.
Sober high: How 'recovery schools' help addicted students
Independence Academy in Brockton, Mass., is one of 33 so-called recovery schools in the United States, public high schools that serve students whose lives and educations have been derailed by drug abuse. While national surveys indicate that adolescent drug use has fallen in recent years, some 1.3 million 12- to 17-year-olds still met the criteria for a substance use disorder in 2014. That includes 679,000 young people who struggled with alcohol problems and another 168,000 who misused pain relievers. Before the advent of recovery schools, parents had few options for dealing with a son or daughter who had a drug problem. They could seek private treatment, but gaining access to services isn't easy. In many states, the wait to get an evaluation from an adolescent psychiatrist can take three to six months.
GOP leaders turn session into fiasco
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: "Give it a break, guys. The we-can't-spend-money-we-don't-have argument is just a little too false-hearted. The GOP talking point was embellished by House Public Health Committee Chairman Sam Mills: 'What I always tell my children, gentlemen, is that we can't print money,' Mims said. 'Often I look outside in my backyard, and I say, "Do you see a money tree?" And I don't see a money tree. ...So tell them we're doing the best we can with the budget we have today.' Well, of course there is no money tree, because the Legislature, under GOP leadership, has been impulsively whacking mature money trees and not planting new ones. ...Descending from false-hearted statements to falsehoods is a needless fiasco for our GOP leaders, just like their budget and this legislative session."
Mississippi lottery has legs
The Clarion-Ledger's Geoff Pender writes: "When talking with friends, family, strangers --- even some lawmakers --- about state politics and the Legislature, the question I get the most by far these days is: Why don't they pass a lottery? In the past I've tried to explain that the issue brought the unlikely bedfellows of the religious lobby and the casino lobby together against it. But that no longer seems to be the case. Casinos no longer appear all that concerned about it (a top state casino exec recently told me as much). I'm sure religious interests aren't thrilled by it, but they haven't appeared to be up in arms at its mere mention as in the past. I'm guessing 25 years of legalized casino gambling and surrounding states selling them has taken some of the stank off a Lotto ticket. ...The lottery has legs these days. It seems to me it's becoming something of a populist issue. I know I don't get out much, but judging from some politicians' support of it, I'm guessing some polling has borne this out."
Once again, online sales taxes are not new
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "Over the last six months, there's been a lot of rhetoric from politicians, special interests and vested interests trying to convince Mississippians that collecting a use tax that's been on the books since 1932 is a new tax. If you don't buy that, those same sources will tell you that collection of that tax is unconstitutional and would represent 'fake' money. But at the same time, some of those same politicians fought tooth-and-nail to keep use taxes already being collected by the state Department of Revenue in the General Fund rather than earmarking some of it for maintenance of the state's roads and bridges. And more to the point, the Legislature is fully aware that the state Department of Revenue is actively seeking to expand the collection of use taxes from online retailers in much the same way that Amazon reached a voluntary agreement with Mississippi's DOR to collect the tax. Sorting out that clamor gets confusing."

Bulldogs' storybook season falls one win short of national title
Mississippi State achieved one of the biggest upsets in women's basketball history when it knocked off No. 1 Connecticut and ended its 111-game winning streak with Morgan William's overtime buzzer-beater. But that victory came in the Final Four on Friday and only got the Bulldogs into the national championship game. MSU's storybook ending was rewritten by A'ja Wilson and South Carolina two days later. Wilson scored 23 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots as she guided the Gamecocks to a 67-55 win and the program's first national title. "South Carolina played extremely well, and today just wasn't our best day," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "They were the better team today."
Mississippi State falls to South Carolina in title game
When Vic Schaefer entered Mississippi State's locker room after the Bulldogs' season ended Sunday, he saw faces filled with tears. Some hid their eyes with towels once he began speaking to them. But there was not a single person in the room not crying, players later said. Schaefer told his players that they didn't play their style of "Bulldog basketball" on this night. But he added he was proud of them for coming this far. Before he left to address the media, he thanked his team, specifically the seniors, for believing in the process. Right before he was about to speak at the podium, Schaefer looked toward seniors Dominique Dillingham, Breanna Richardson and Ketara Chapel, flashed the kind of smile one makes before they're about to shed tears of their own and congratulated South Carolina.
Mississippi State women come up short of miracle NCAA finish
The Mississippi State miracle finished a little short. Two days after ending four-time defending national champion UConn's record 111-game winning streak, the Bulldogs lost 67-55 to SEC rival South Carolina in the women's NCAA Tournament championship game Sunday night. "It wasn't our best day. But it's not defining our season," Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer said. "Had a heck of a year, man. We've beaten two No. 1's to get here. We played on the last day. Are we disappointed? Absolutely." The best season ever by the Bulldogs ended after an incredible late March run that they couldn't extend into the second day in April.
Notebook: Mississippi State's senior class leaves with 111 wins, three NCAA tournament berths
Ketara Chapel, Dominique Dillingham, Chinwe Okorie, and Breanna Richardson helped transform the Mississippi State women's basketball program. All four players believed in a vision Vic Schaefer was selling entering his second season and coming off a 13-17 finish. The four seniors helped Schaefer realize that vision by playing integral roles in helping the Bulldogs win more games in each of the last four seasons. Going from 22 to 27 to 28 to 34, that run ended Sunday night with a 67-55 loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament national championship game before a crowd of 19,229 at American Airlines Center. "It just shows how hard not only the four seniors have worked to get to this point, but also everybody from the staff to our fans," Chapel said. "They have been rooting hard for us to get to this point. I am just grateful to get to this point. Who would have thought Mississippi State would have been playing for the national championship tonight?"
Mississippi State falls in Women's National Championship Game
Mississippi State fell short in its bid to win the school's first-ever national championship in any sport Sunday. South Carolina beat MSU 67-55 in the Finals of the NCAA Women's Tournament on Sunday afternoon at American Airlines Center in Dallas. MSU (34-5) was swept by the Gamecocks this season. South Carolina also won 64-61 at home and 59-49 win in the SEC Women's Tournament Championship game last month. The Gamecocks had also beaten MSU 11 consecutive times. The Bulldogs punched their ticket to the Tournament Finals with a 66-64 win over No. 1 UConn, snapping the Huskies' NCAA-record 111-game winning streak on Morgan Williams' jumper at the buzzer in overtime. Two former Sun Herald girls' basketball players of the year -- Harrison Central's Jazzmun Holmes and Ameshya Williams of West Harrison- are on MSU's team.
Mississippi State fans gather to root for Bulldogs, weren't disappointed even in the loss
Mississippi State fans rang cowbells and cheered for the Lady Bulldogs after their disappointing 67-55 loss to South Carolina on Sunday night. About 30 former students, family and friends gathered for a watch party Sunday at Anthony's Sports Bar and Grill in Gulfport. "Our basketball programs have not been recognized like they deserve to be," said MSU alumna Suzanne Shifalo. "These girls went to the mountaintop when they beat U-Conn (66-64 on Friday)." The fans cheered former Harrison Central guard Jazzmun Holmes every time she touched the ball, particularly after she scored on a jumpshot in the lane in the fourth quarter to put the Bulldogs within 48-44. "It's really special to be at this point, especially because Jazzmun Holmes from Gulfport is on the court playing right now," said Jade Ferguson, a 2007 MSU graduate who serves as the Gulf Coast Alumni Chapter's social and community chair.
Irondale's Morgan William takes her place in history in Women's Final Four
An angel guided that basketball into the hoop. Morgan William knows that. The biggest shot of her life left her hand, and then floated like a song up to her dad. "Play with me, Mr. Donnie," William used to say when she was three years old. "Play with me." William is the point guard for Mississippi State who made the winning basket against Connecticut on Friday in the Women's Final Four. Many are calling it the biggest shot in women's basketball history, and regardless of whether or not William and her Bulldogs defeat South Carolina on Sunday night in Dallas for the championship, her buzzer beater in overtime against UConn will go down as one of the game's most memorable. If she wasn't the darling of March Madness already, William now enters the national championship a star. She learned the game from her stepfather, Donnie Rory, who, at 44 years old, died from a massive heart attack less than two months after William led Shades Valley to the 2014 AHSAA Class 6A girls' basketball state championship.
A Small Guard Upends UConn and 'Breathes a Little Life' Into Her Sport
Mississippi State lists its starting point guard, Morgan William, as 5 feet 5 inches. It is a matter of generosity more than accuracy. "We need to re-measure," Coach Vic Schaefer said amusedly, "because I'm pretty sure she ain't the 5 on the second part of that." No matter. William, the shortest player on the court, made the biggest play of the national semifinals late Friday. Her 15-foot jump shot at the buzzer in overtime defeated Connecticut, 66-64, in an epic upset that halted the Huskies' 111-game winning streak and ended their chance of a fifth consecutive N.C.A.A. championship. And now the sport has another luminous moment that many observers felt it needed: not certainty but mystery. A surprise ending, a last-second revelation, a champion dethroned. A stunning instant that will be replayed for as long as games are won in a final astonishment. A woman hitting a late shot and her face blooming in jubilant disbelief and her teammates engulfing her in an ecstatic pile.
Strong pitching helps Bulldogs complete sweep of Rebels
If there is a method to prepare for what Jake Mangum did on Saturday, he doesn't know what it is. Just as well, since he wouldn't have had time to do it anyway. Center fielder Jake Mangum, in the aftermath of Mississippi State baseball's yearlong pitching injury problems, has been called upon to start Sunday games on the mound -- on top of the reigning Southeastern Conference batting champion's duties as the team's leadoff hitter. In his three starts in that role, he has never been asked to give MSU more than three innings and has never thrown more than 45 pitches, returning to a more natural designated hitter role afterward. Then he took the mound against Ole Miss. Mangum threw five innings and 73 pitches on Saturday, allowing just two hits and one run as MSU (19-10, 6-3 SEC) beat Ole Miss 2-1 for its first sweep of the Rebels (16-12, 3-6 SEC) since 2003, also in Oxford. The win followed Friday's 5-3 victory.
14-year itch: Bulldogs bring out brooms on Rebels
Mississippi State earned its first sweep of rival Ole Miss since 2003 as much for its timely defense as its timely hitting. MSU first baseman Brent Rooker doubled twice and drove in a run, but he saved the Bulldogs' 2-1 win Saturday with a diving stab of a smoked ground ball off the bat of pinch-hitter Tim Rowe with two outs in the ninth. The bases were loaded. Rowe's hit seemed destined for the right field corner, but most of a Swayze Field crowd 11,204 groaned when Rooker jumped up with the ball and beat Rowe to the bag. No. 19 Ole Miss (16-12, 3-6 SEC) has lost five straight conference games. First-year MSU coach Andy Cannizaro was not among the groaning. "The way the game ended today shows you how important each and every out is in this league and in this series," he said.
Mississippi State sweeps Ole Miss for the first time since 2003
Off the bat, it looked like Tim Rowe had the game-winning hit that would've helped Ole Miss finish a ninth-inning rally and avoid a sweep to in-state rival Mississippi State. "He squared up, he hit it really hard and I just had to react to it," Bulldogs first baseman Brent Rooker said. Instead of beating the Rebels with his bat, like he did for much of the series, Rooker did it with his glove Saturday. He snagged Rowe's would-be hit, which came with the bases loaded, and tagged first base, which finished off Mississippi State's 2-1 victory at Swayze Field and completed its first sweep of Ole Miss since 2003. "I think it was a bunch of luck," Rooker said. "But it somehow found my glove and I was able to make a play." Rooker, who's hitting .422, went 5-for-13 at the plate against the Rebels (16-12, 3-6 SEC). All five hits were of the extra-base variety. His double in the third inning tied the game at 1-1.
Mississippi State completes sweep over Ole Miss
The Mississippi State baseball team kept its win streak alive Saturday afternoon. Behind a splendid pitching effort from Jake Mangum, Cole Gordon, Graham Ashcraft, Riley Self and Spencer Price, Mississippi State completed a three-game Southeastern Conference series sweep of arch rival Ole Miss with a 2-1 victory at Swayze Field. "What a weekend that was," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "It was a great weekend for baseball in this state. The crowds were great and there was so much energy in the ballpark. We won three games and we did it in three different ways. It was just an outstanding weekend all around for this team."
Ole Miss' offense sputters again in sweep-clinching loss to Mississippi State
Ole Miss generated some late drama but not much else in its series finale against its in-state rival. The 19th-ranked Rebels went the final eight innings without scoring in a 2-1 loss Saturday at Swayze Field that gave Mississippi State its first sweep in the series since 2003. Ole Miss has scored three runs or fewer in 15 of its last 20 games and seven of its first nine SEC contests. "Not using the young excuse, but for a lot of guys, this is the first time (a sweep) has ever happened to them, especially here," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. "We've got to stick together." Ole Miss (16-12, 3-6 Southeastern Conference) was more aggressive early in the count but had little to show for it.
Spring practice: Mississippi State offense shines in closed scrimmage
Dan Mullen and Mississippi State held their second spring scrimmage Saturday inside Davis Wade Stadium. The scrimmage was closed to the media but Mullen did note the offense held the upper hand. "Last week the defense came out on top and today the offense really started to make some plays," said Mullen. "It is always tough in the spring because I want to go back and watch the film and see what needs to get fixed. What I want to see is really good football being played on both sides of the ball." Mississippi State enters the final week of spring drills with three more scheduled practices. That includes Saturday's annual Maroon and White game at 3 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium. "This is a big week," Mullen said.
Arkansas to Limit Guns at Sports Events After Expanding Concealed-Carry Law
Arkansas lawmakers have sent the governor a measure exempting college sporting events from a new state law that greatly expands where concealed handguns are allowed. Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, said he planned to sign the bill -- which was approved by the State Senate in a 23-7 vote - on Monday. The Southeastern Conference and two of the other major college athletic conferences in the state had urged lawmakers to make the exemption, saying the expanded concealed handgun law raised safety concerns. The University of Arkansas is an SEC school. Mr. Hutchinson said after the vote that he thought the measure struck the right balance and ensured that college sports events could be gun-free if they had a security plan in place.
New track at Louisiana-Monroe booting 2 of state's largest research collections off campus
Athletic renovations, budget cuts and limited use have given the death knell to the thousands of fish and plant research specimens housed at the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Museum of Natural History. Eric Pani, vice president for academic affairs, said Thursday that the university is finding a new home for two of the state's largest research collections -- 6 million fish specimens and 500,000 plant specimens. Two Louisiana institutions have expressed interest as well as some institutes outside the state, he said. Pani acknowledges the decision is not ideal but "makes the most sense for preserving this important resource." Pani said there's no way the collections will be destroyed. "That's not the case at all," he said.

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