Mississippi State became the 15th program in NCAA Tournament history to advance to three consecutive Elite Eights with a 76-53 victory against No. 22/20 Arizona State on Friday night in the Portland Regional semifinal.
Teaira McCowan added to MSU’s historic night, becoming the all-time leading rebounder in the history of the tournament, surpassing LSU’s Sylvia Fowles (2005-08) with her 222nd career board in the fourth quarter. McCowan also recorded her 30th double-double of the season, breaking her own MSU single-season record of 29 set last year.
“I told my kids tonight the tougher team was going to win,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “It was going to be about toughness and resilience tonight. I thought we were really tough and showed a lot of resilience. When they would make a run, we answered it. I just thought our team was really tough and resilient today. I thought our execution was outstanding.”
The Bulldogs (33-2, 15-1 SEC) got out to a quick start, sparking a 10-0 run over 2:34 in the first quarter to take a 13-6 lead. The Dawgs were 6-of-15 (40.0 percent) from the field.
The Sun Devils (22-11, 10-7 Pac-12) responded in the second quarter, cutting the lead to just three points with MSU leading 25-22 with 4:05 left in the half. State answered going on a 7-0 run of its own to rebuild a 32-22 lead in the final seconds of the opening half.
At the break, the Bulldogs held a 32-24 lead and had held ASU to just 37.0 percent (10-of-27) from the field. That matched the regular-season finale at South Carolina for State’s lowest-scoring first half of the year. McCowan got off to a slow start with just one field goal attempt and two points in the first half.
The Brenham, Texas, native put together an impressive second half, however, with 20 points on 5-of-7 shooting. She also added 10 made free throws. The Dawgs made 19-of-25 free throws in the second half and finished 25-of-35 from the line for the night.
State put together another run in the third quarter, outscoring the Sun Devils, 7-1, over 1:19 to build a 51-38 lead with 2:36 on the clock. Anriel Howard scored five of her 11 points in the spurt that created MSU’s largest lead up to that point in the contest.
The Bulldogs opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run in the first three minutes of play to extend their lead to 63-47. State then held the Sun Devils scoreless for nearly the final six minutes of play, allowing just one three-point basket at the 1:11 mark. The Dawgs scored 14 of the final 17 points along the way to result in the final score.
Jazzmun Holmes, Andra Espinoza-Hunter (12) and Jordan Danberry (13) rounded out the Bulldogs in double-figures as all five starters eclipsed the mark. Bre’Amber Scott put up five points, and Jessika Carter added her first pair of the NCAA Tournament.