July 9, 2019 11:15:56 AM
The Bulldogs, who are representing the United States in the competition, advanced to the tournament finals with an 89-84 victory over Japan in Naples, Italy Monday.
"There are people in this profession and players who play their whole career that don't get this kind of opportunity," coach Vic Schaefer said in a news release. "I'm really happy for our players. I don't know that I have ever seen a more resilient team that can bow their next and show the toughness that they have shown."
Freshman forward Rickea Jackson led all scorers with 28 points along with six rebounds and three steals. Junior college transfer Yemiyah Morris added another 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
Sophomore Xaria Wiggins and freshman Jayla Hemingway also notched double-figure scoring nights with 11 and 13 points, respectively.
Trailing by five with five minutes to play, MSU (5-0 in tournament play) held Japan to just one basket the rest of the contest as a 9-0 run gave it an 85-81 lead late.
The Bulldogs also limited Japan to just 28 points in the second half -- including an 0-for-10 mark from behind the 3-point line.
MSU will next take on defending gold medalists Australia in the championship game at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The Aussies enter the contest 5-0 in the tournament after dispatching of Portugal 56-49 in the other semifinal Monday.
The championship game will be streamed on FISU TV.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.