KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Mississippi State reached elite status again Friday night.
Behind an NCAA Tournament-tying record performance from Teaira McCowan, the top-seeded Mississippi State women’s basketball team punched a ticket to the Elite Eight for a second-straight season with a 71-57 win against No. 4 seed NC State in a semifinal round game of the Kansas City Regional at Sprint Center.
MSU (35-1) will face either No. 2 seed Texas or No. 3 seed UCLA at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN) for the regional championship. The Bulldogs will be looking for a second-straight trip to the Final Four.
With the win, the Bulldogs also bettered last season’s school record for victories in a season.
“We give God the glory for No. 35, that’s another school record,” MSU head coach Vic 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.
“(Morgan William) controlled the entire game. Victoria (Vivians) was great on the offensive and defensive end. Teaira (McCowan) was dominating, as she has been all year for us. Proud of our kids. We will have our work cut out for us on Sunday. Our pressure really bothered them today and wore them down in the second half.”
McCowan led the way for the Bulldogs with her 26th double-double of the season. She had 24 points and 15 rebounds, while tying a tournament record by going a perfect 11-for-11 from the field. McCowan becomes only the second player in tournament history to accomplish that feat.
Victoria Vivians added 14 points, while Morgan William had 13 points and Roshunda Johnson had 12 points. William also dished out eight assists.
The Bulldogs established their dominance underneath early in the contest. A 3-pointer by Vivians and layup by McCowan helped place the Bulldogs on top 17-7. The Wolfpack scored the next six points, but the Bulldogs led 19-15 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, the Wolfpack scored five straight points to grab their only lead of the game at 20-19 with 8:00 left in the half. A Jazzmun Holmes layup capped a 6-0 run as the Bulldogs took the lead for good.
A 3-pointer by William stretched the lead back to 10 points at 34-24 with 2:11 left in the half.
MSU led 36-31 at halftime.
A 6-0 run helped push the Bulldogs to a 53-37 advantage with 4:01 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs carried a 58-41 lead into the final quarter.
For the contest, MSU hit 28 of 53 shots from the field (52.8 percent), 3 of 11 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 12 of 13 shots from the foul line (92.3 percent). NC State hit 20 of 52 shots from the field (38.5 percent), 3 of 11 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 14 of 20 shots from the foul line (70.0 percent).
NC State held a 30-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and nine turnovers, while the Wolfpack had seven assists and 12 turnovers.
Kiara Leslie led NC State with 27 points.