How Sweet It Is: HailState Hoops Advances to 3rd Straight Sweet 16

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State is headed back to the Sweet 16.

Rocking the Humphrey Coliseum for the final time this season, the top-seeded Mississippi State women’s basketball team held off No. 9 seed Oklahoma State 71-56 in a second-round game of the Kansas City Regional played before a crowd of 9,881.

MSU (34-1) will face No. 4 seed North Carolina State (26-8) in a regional semifinal game Friday at Kansas City, Missouri. The game will tip at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The Bulldogs will need two wins in three days to punch a return ticket to the Final Four.

MSU advances to the Sweet 16 for a third-straight season and fourth time in program history. The Bulldogs have swept the first two rounds of the tournament in three consecutive seasons.

With the win, MSU matches a school record for victories in a season with a second-straight 34-win season. The Bulldogs also finish this year with a school-record 18-0 mark at home.

“Our kids just continued to compete,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We started rough again. We were struggling on both ends in the first quarter. Heck of a game. Can’t say enough about our four seniors. To perform that well on that stage is a great performance.

“I want to thank the fans, too. To have better than 20,000 for two games is incredible.”

Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs with 23 points, while Teaira McCowan had 21 points. Morgan William added 17 points. McCowan collected a double-double as she had a game-high 18 rebounds. Roshunda Johnson and Vivians each had four assists, while McCowan had a pair of blocks.

The Bulldogs start fast as 3-pointers by Vivians and Johnson sent the team to a 10-4 lead. The Cowgirls would follow with a 14-0 run to build a 20-12 lead with a minute left in the first quarter.

Blair Schaefer and William scored to end the quarter, bringing the Bulldogs back within 20-16.

The Bulldogs battled back for a 24-22 lead on a pair of Vivians free throws. Things were nip-and-tuck the rest of the half with a 3-pointer by Schaefer giving the Bulldogs a 35-34 lead at the break.

A layup by Johnson with 6:18 left in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 43-41. The Bulldogs then turned things up on the defensive end and stretched the lead to 51-43 with 4:23 left in the third quarter.

The Cowgirls were held to 11 points in the third quarter, including one field goal over the final 5:49. The Bulldogs carried a 55-45 lead into the final quarter.

After Oklahoma State scored on a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, MSU led by at least seven the remainder of the way.

“In the second half we played really well,” Schaefer said. “Teaira showed her value to this basketball program. Morgan did a great job of controlling the game. We wanted to run and we didn’t want them to run. Oklahoma State had two fast-break points.”

For the contest, MSU hit 28 of 67 shots from the field (41.8 percent), 3 of 10 shots from 3-point range (30,0 percent) and 12 of 15 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). Oklahoma State hit 20 of 51 shots from the field (39.2 percent), 5 of 17 shots from 3-point range (29.4 percent) and 11 of 13 shots from the foul line (84.6 percent).

MSU held a 41-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 12 assists and six turnovers, while the Cowgirls had 12 assists and 12 turnovers.

Oklahoma State (21-11) received 18 points from Kaylee Jensen, 14 points from Loryn Goodwin and 12 points apiece from Mandy Coleman and Braxtin Miller. Goodwin had a team-high nine rebounds for the Cowgirls.

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