One-seed Mississippi State University (35-1) came into Kansas City, Missouri, with a trip to the regional finals on the line, and 4-seed North Carolina State University (26-9) was the only thing standing in their way. MSU came away with a 71-57 win, which head coach Vic Schaefer said the game set another record for the team.
“35-1, this team and these kids continue to set records at Mississippi State,” Schaefer said. “I am just proud of them, and hats off to NC State. Those kids had our attention, but I thought that our kids were special today.”
Teaira McCowan, a junior center from Brenham, Texas, finished the game with 24 points and 15 rebounds. She also shot 11-11 from the field, tying a record set in 1985 with Carmichael of St. Joseph's. Schaefer said he was proud of his girls, but there is still more to be done.
“(McCowan) was dominant, as she has been all year,” Schaefer said. “We have our work cut out for us with the winner of this next one. To be where they are and to do it the way we have done it, I thought our pressure bothered them.”
NC State’s head coach Wes Moore said the team had to pick their poison. Another offensive tool MSU had was Roshunda Johnson, who scored 12 points in the game.
“Victoria Vivians seems to knock down about every open shot she gets, and they have got so many weapons. Johnson can shoot the three,” Moore said. “You try to take McCowan away. It’s not rocket science there, but you gotta give her credit: she did knock down some shots.”
McCowan had a strong offensive game tying an NCAA record, and had a similar game against Florida last year, where she went 11-12. She said the reason she turns up in March is because once the season is over, it is over.
“This time of year, if you lose, you go home and you basically start over,” McCowan said. “With my team and my seniors, I got to shine and be the best I can be and go as far as possible.”
Johnson, a senior guard from Little Rock, Arkansas, had 12 points in her first game since losing her grandfather. She flew in last night after the funeral in order to be with the team for today’s game.
“It felt really good, I knew I had to come back and be here for my team at the same time,” Johnson said. “I felt like I left it all out on the floor anyway, I felt like we completed the mission.”
Schaefer said his grandparents were the first people he lost in his life, so he and the team have tried to be there for Johnson these past few days. He said this is how life goes, and this was bigger than basketball.
“I really gotta credit her mom; her mom and I visited, and I wanted to make sure her family knew that I was all for whatever they wanted her to do,” Schaefer said. “We just wanted to support her. She wanted to be at the funeral, and that is where she needed to be. She came in last night late and we had a chance as a staff to hug her, and to let her know how much they cared about her."
Schaefer was very thankful for the crowd after the game and said he wished the team could have visited with everyone after the game because they really appreciated their support tonight.
“Loved our crowd, loved our people, I mean they are just the best,” Schaefer said. “They love this team, they travel and they plan to travel. They are just the best, and I just can't say enough about how much we appreciate them."
MSU will take on the winner of 3-seed University of California at Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in their regional final, with the opportunity to go to the Final Four.