It was a tale of two halves, as the Bulldogs are now 35-1, heading to the Elite Eight after a 71-57 victory over NC State. Led by Teaira McCowan and Morgan William, Mississippi State took it up a notch and made it look easy under the Kansas City lights. It was clear that coach Vic Schaefer sent a message to his team after Monday’s win in Starkville, as the Bulldogs left it all on the floor.
When at her best, McCowan is arguably the game’s best, it’s just that simple. She recorded a double -double with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks. NC State had no answer for McCowan. She ruled the boards all night and dominated defensively.
While McCowan did have three turnovers and three fouls, it did not matter, as her teammates were right there to help. McCowan played with confidence, attitude, and aggression. She was a force, and it did not take long for NC State to give in.
They call her “itty bitty” for a reason, and she came to play yet again. Morgan William has taken over March Madness, as she dominated both ends of the floor until the clock read triple zeros. With 13 points and eight assists, William has panned out to be one of the game’s best at running the point.
She stands at 5’5” and had two blocks tonight. Yes, 5’5” with two blocks. William was on point defensively and made her presence felt. Like McCowan, William played with an edge and it was on full display. Itty bitty has become the face of this team in March, as she has singlehandedly taken the Madness into her own hands.
Having posted 27 points and six rebounds, Kiara Leslie had her way offensively. Though the Bulldogs were sensational defensively, 27 points is 27 points. Leslie was on fire, and it only took Akela Maize’s eyes to find her for three. Suddenly the Wolfpack were on top 20-19 with 8:01 remaining in the second quarter.
Though down, the Bulldogs showed that there was plenty more in store and that NC State was in for a long night. It took one answer from the game’s most dominant player, as McCowan’s back to back go ahead layups set the tone and ignited Mississippi State. This team has truly come together, and has only become more dangerous.
Also in double-digits were Roshunda Johnson and Victoria Vivians, as the two combined for 26 points Blair Schaefer had four personal fouls on the night but still gave the Wolfpack fits on the defensive end. Jazzmun Holmes, Chloe Bibby, and Jordan Danberry combined for eight points off the bench and added a spark.
Overall tonight’s win showed trust and growth on both ends of the floor. This team knows its ultimate goal and what needs to be done to get there. Coach Vic and the Bulldogs are on a mission, and have all the reason to smile after tonight’s statement win.