It’s on to the Elite Eight for the Mississippi State women as they took down NC State last night 71-57.
Before the game, the thought process was that if MSU’s stars could replicate their second-round performance against Oklahoma State, they would be able to cruise past NC State. So how did Tearia McCowan follow up a 21-point, 12 rebound game in round two? She led the team in scoring with 24 points on a perfect 11-11 from the floor; she also added 15 rebounds for good measure.
McCowan’s flawless shooting performance makes her just the second player in tournament history to do so, according to MSU athletics. After the game, McCowan, the junior, told ESPN that she is doing everything she can to keep the Bulldogs on the road to a national championship for the four senior starters that surround her.
“This time of year, you lose, you go home,” McCowan said, “You basically start over. So my team, my seniors — the four I got — I’m just trying to make it the best it can be, go as far as possible.”
When asked what it was like trying to defend the 6’7 center, NC State head coach Wes Moore said that there wasn’t much they could do.
“You feel pretty helpless,” Moore said to ESPN.
At the half, MSU held a 36-31 lead, and it was the 3rd quarter when they began to pull away. By the end of the quarter, the Bulldogs had widened their lead to 58-41 after outscoring NC State 22-10. In the 4th, the Wolfpack were never able to make a run and get the lead cut to single digits. MSU head coach Vic Schaefer attributed the win to the team’s pressure in the second half which he said wore down the Wolfpack.
MSU has 35 wins on the season, and Schaefer said that it took a special performance to earn this victory.
“We give God the glory for No. 35, that’s another school record,” Schaefer said. “It is another record for this team and I am proud of them. North Carolina State has a great team, and they have been playing so well. They had our full attention. Today, our kids were just special.”
Now the Bulldogs go on to face the #3 seed UCLA on Sunday in the Elite Eight. UCLA beat Texas in the Sweet-16. During the regular season, the Bruins played two top-5 opponents and split the games with a win over #3 Baylor and loss to #1 UConn.
Tip-off for Sunday’s game is 6:30 p.m.