By Associated Press
March 23, 2018

The women's NCAA tournament kicked off its Sweet 16 round on Friday, with No. 1 Mississippi State beating No. 4 N.C. State, No. 6 Oregon State knocking off No. 2 Baylor, No. 3 UCLA taking care of business against No. 2 Texas and No. 1 Louisville blowing out No. 4 Stanford.

Mississippi State will take on UCLA in the Kansas City region Elite Eight matchup while Louisville will face Oregon State to determine the winner of the Lexington region. The winners of these two games—which will take place Sunday—will face each other in the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio next Friday, March 30.

This is the second straight year Mississippi State has reached the Elite Eight, as the Bulldogs were the national runner-up last season after stunning top-seed UConn in the semifinals. UCLA, Oregon State and Louisville all lost in the Sweet 16 last season, but two years ago, Oregon State made a run to the Final Four before losing to eventual-national champion UConn.


Mississippi State routs NC State 71-57 to reach Elite 8

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — North Carolina State tried to push Teaira McCowan off the block, then tried double-teaming the Mississippi State star, before ultimately trying to deny her the ball altogether.

None of it worked.

McCowan still scored 24 points on perfect shooting, pulled down 15 rebounds and generally made life miserable for the Wolfpack, and helped the top-seeded Bulldogs breeze to a 71-57 win Friday night and a spot in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

“You don’t see 6-foot-7 every day,” Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “When they’re just lobbing it up to her, there’s not a whole lot you can do at times. You feel pretty helpless.”

McCowan didn’t do it alone, though.

Victoria Vivians added 14 points, Morgan William had 13 and Roshunda Johnson finished with 12, helping the (35-1) break their school record for wins in a season.

They’ll have a chance to add to it Sunday, when they face second-seeded UCLA or No. 3 seed Texas for a spot in the Bulldogs’ second consecutive Final Four.

“This time of year, you lose, you go home,” said McCowan, who finished 11 of 11 from the field and made both of her foul shots. “You basically start over. So my team, my seniors—the four I got—I’m just trying to make it the best it can be, go as far as possible.”

Kiara Leslie had 27 points to pace the No. 4 seed Wolfpack (26-9), who led early in the second quarter before coming undone. Foul trouble set in, Mississippi State clamped down defensively and Moore was hit with a technical foul as the Bulldogs pulled away.

“Great team,” Moore said, “but I couldn’t be prouder of my group. Great resiliency all year.”

The Bulldogs, who lost to South Carolina in last year’s title game, looked as though they would cruise to the doorstep of another Final Four when they roared to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter.

North Carolina State leaned on its defense, and one of the best rebounding margins in the nation, to claw back. Leslie’s 3 early in the second quarter gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 advantage.

Mississippi State responded with another run, fueled almost entirely by its 6-foot-7 star. McCowan easily grabbed rebounds over the smaller Wolfpack, scored a series of layups and wound up with 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the first half, as the Bulldogs took a 36-41 lead into the break.

Mississippi State still led 49-37 midway through the third quarter when the Wolfpack’s Akela Maize, who had tangled with McCowan all game, picked up her fourth foul.

“Definitely, you never really know how strong a player is at 6-7 ’til you go against them,” Maize said. “I think that was the biggest surprise I had coming into the game. She’s really strong.”

Moore came unglued and was slapped a technical foul, then continued his diatribe as the officials mostly ignored him. William made two foul shots and Johnson a layup for the four-point trip down floor, and the Bulldogs eventually pushed their lead to 20 points.

They coasted the rest of the way to the Elite Eight.

“This team and these kids continue to set records at Mississippi State. Just proud of them,” Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer said. “Hat’s off to N.C. State. Wes had a done a tremendous job with that program. That team had our attention. They certainly had mine.”


No. 6-seed Oregon State upsets No. 2-seed Baylor 72-67

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Marie Gulich had 26 points, Kat Tudor added 16 and sixth-seeded Oregon State shot 58 percent in the second half to upset No. 2 seed Baylor 72-67 on Friday night in the women’s NCAA Tournament Lexington Region semifinal.

Two years after upsetting Baylor in the Elite Eight, Oregon State (26-7) followed up with a steady performance that ended the Lady Bears’ 30-game winning streak. The Beavers had to withstand nine consecutive points by Alexis Morris that got the Lady Bears (33-2) to 69-67 with 42 seconds remaining before Katie McWilliams’ left-corner 3-pointer provided a five-point edge.

Morris missed two 3s and Natalie Chou another in the final 10 seconds for Baylor, which shot just 39 percent and was edged 38-37 on the glass.

Gulich made 10 of 17 from the field and had nine rebounds for OSU, which won for the 10 time in 11 contests. Tudor was 5 of 10 shooting and 4 of 8 from long range as the Beavers made 9 of 20 from behind the arc.

Kalani Brown had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor, which was outscored in all but the second quarter in losing for the first time since falling 68-62 at UCLA in November.

BIG PICTURE

The Beavers weren’t intimidated by Baylor’s winning streak or size, working around the latter with crisp passing for good looks and controlling the boards throughout. Gulich thrived in both cases, hitting mid-range shots and the boards. Perimeter shooting was the difference, with Tudor and Corosdale combining for seven 3-pointers on 13 attempts. McWilliams’ late 3 was the difference.

Just as the Lady Bears seemed to find their rhythm with Brown, they steadily fell apart after halftime and never found consistency. Making just 3 of 17 from long range didn’t help, but being outrebounded after entering with a plus-26.5 margin was the biggest shortcoming for a team that had been dominant since early November.

UP NEXT

Oregon State faces the Louisville in Sunday’s regional championship.

 



 


UCLA beats Texas 84-75 to reach Elite Eight

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jordin Canada scored 22 points, putting second-seeded UCLA on her back in the fourth quarter, and the Bruins beat Texas 84-75 on Friday night to avenge a Sweet 16 loss to the Longhorns two years ago.

Monique Billings added 17 points and Kennedy Burke had 15 for the Bruins (27-7). They finally made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament after falling a game short the past two seasons.

They’ll face top-seeded Mississippi State on Sunday night for their first Final Four trip.

Ariel Atkins had 20 points and Jatarie White had 17 for the No. 3 seed Longhorns (28-7), who kept falling into deep holes, slowly digging their way out and then letting UCLA pull away once more.

Texas made one last charge when it got back-to-back 3-pointers from Atkins and Alecia Sutton to close within 76-72 with less than 2 minutes left. But Burke answered with a layup for UCLA, and Canada’s jumper with just under a minute to go helped put the game away.

UCLA wound up shooting 56.3 percent from the field in the second half.

The Bruins forged a 19-11 lead after the first quarter, then used their speed and athleticism to create turnovers and coast to easy layups to keep the Longhorns at bay.

Billings had 11 points at halftime, when UCLA had a 39-31 lead.

It was Texas that came out roaring in the second half, though. Ariel Atkins began the charge with a 3-pointer, Brooke McCarty scored back-to-back baskets, and by the time UCLA coach Cori Close called a timeout the lead her team spent the first half building had been wiped away.

The Bruins eventually calmed down, and they proceeded to rip off a 17-4 run to end the third quarter. They forced three turnovers in a span of four possessions at one point, and were helped along by wild shots that McCarty and the rest of the Longhorns were forced to put up.

It was 59-49 at the start of the fourth quarter, and the Longhorns quickly closed to within six points, only for the lead to spool out once more. Canada scored seven straight for the Bruins at one point, then contributed to every crucial play down the stretch.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA’s best NCAA Tournament finish was its Elite Eight trip in 1999. The Bruins can top that by knocking off the Bulldogs, who breezed past fourth-seeded North Carolina State on Friday night.

Texas was sloppy the entire game, committing 21 turnovers that often led to easy run-outs. The Longhorns wound up getting outscored 31-13 in points-off-turnovers and 17-6 on the break.

UP NEXT

The Bruins will face Mississippi State, the national runners-up a year ago, on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.


Mississippi State routs NC State 71-57

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — North Carolina State tried to push Teaira McCowan off the block, then tried double-teaming the Mississippi State star, before ultimately trying to deny her the ball altogether.

None of it worked.

McCowan still scored 24 points on perfect shooting, pulled down 15 rebounds and generally made life miserable for the Wolfpack, and helped the top-seeded Bulldogs breeze to a 71-57 win Friday night and a spot in the Elite Eight of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

“You don’t see 6-foot-7 every day,” Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “When they’re just lobbing it up to her, there’s not a whole lot you can do at times. You feel pretty helpless.”

McCowan didn’t do it alone, though.

Victoria Vivians added 14 points, Morgan William had 13 and Roshunda Johnson finished with 12, helping the (35-1) break their school record for wins in a season.

They’ll have a chance to add to it Sunday, when they face second-seeded UCLA or No. 3 seed Texas for a spot in the Bulldogs’ second consecutive Final Four.

“This time of year, you lose, you go home,” said McCowan, who finished 11 of 11 from the field and made both of her foul shots. “You basically start over. So my team, my seniors — the four I got — I’m just trying to make it the best it can be, go as far as possible.”

Kiara Leslie had 27 points to pace the No. 4 seed Wolfpack (26-9), who led early in the second quarter before coming undone. Foul trouble set in, Mississippi State clamped down defensively and Moore was hit with a technical foul as the Bulldogs pulled away.

“Great team,” Moore said, “but I couldn’t be prouder of my group. Great resiliency all year.”

The Bulldogs, who lost to South Carolina in last year’s title game, looked as though they would cruise to the doorstep of another Final Four when they roared to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter.

North Carolina State leaned on its defense, and one of the best rebounding margins in the nation, to claw back. Leslie’s 3 early in the second quarter gave the Wolfpack a 20-19 advantage.

Mississippi State responded with another run, fueled almost entirely by its 6-foot-7 star. McCowan easily grabbed rebounds over the smaller Wolfpack, scored a series of layups and wound up with 16 points on 7-for-7 shooting in the first half, as the Bulldogs took a 36-41 lead into the break.

Mississippi State still led 49-37 midway through the third quarter when the Wolfpack’s Akela Maize, who had tangled with McCowan all game, picked up her fourth foul.

“Definitely, you never really know how strong a player is at 6-7 ’til you go against them,” Maize said. “I think that was the biggest surprise I had coming into the game. She’s really strong.”

Moore came unglued and was slapped a technical foul, then continued his diatribe as the officials mostly ignored him. William made two foul shots and Johnson a layup for the four-point trip down floor, and the Bulldogs eventually pushed their lead to 20 points.

They coasted the rest of the way to the Elite Eight.

“This team and these kids continue to set records at Mississippi State. Just proud of them,” Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer said. “Hat’s off to N.C. State. Wes had a done a tremendous job with that program. That team had our attention. They certainly had mine.”


Louisville women handle Stanford 86-59

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Asia Durr had 24 points, Myisha Hines-Allen added 17 and top-seeded Louisville rolled past No. 4 seed Stanford 86-59 on Friday night in the women’s NCAA Tournament Lexington Region semifinal.

Arica Carter had 13 points and Jazmine Jones 10 for the Cardinals (35-2), who trailed for just 53 seconds to win their 10th consecutive game and advance to their first regional final since 2014. Louisville thrived offensively, shooting 52 percent and building a lead that reached 27 points with 1:24 remaining to finish their third consecutive NCAA Tournament rout.

Hines made 8 of 15 baskets and surpassed 2,000 career points. The senior forward also grabbed five rebounds.

Brittany McPhee had 15 points and Dijonai Carrington 14 for Stanford, which hoped to upset a tournament top seed for the third straight March in Lexington after knocking out Notre Dame the previous two years.

The Cardinal’s bench outscored Louisville 23-13, but Stanford committed 19 turnovers leading to 22 points for the Cardinals.

BIG PICTURE

Stanford: The Cardinal started out doing what it needed to stay with Louisville offensively, outshooting the Cardinals 73 percent to 65 percent in the first quarter. But Stanford still trailed by six, and that early statistic demonstrated its struggle to slow down the athletic Cardinals. With that went the Cardinal’s goal of toppling a top seed for the third straight spring.

Louisville: Playing just under 80 miles east of home with many of 5,715 clad in red at Rupp Arena, the Cardinals gave them a lot to cheer by clicking in many areas. They outrebounded Stanford 34-29, controlled the paint and outraced the Cardinal in the late-evening contest. Hines-Allen set the initial tempo on offense before Durr and others chipped in. Forward Sam Fuehring had 11 rebounds and nine points.

UP NEXT

Louisville faces No. 6 seed Oregon State in Sunday’s regional final.

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