Top seed Mississippi State surges past UCLA to reach second straight Final Four

As they close in on the win in the game's final minutes, Mississippi State starters embrace as they walk up the court together. Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics.
As they close in on the win in the game’s final minutes, Mississippi State starters embrace as they walk up the court together. Photo courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics.

Kansas City, Mo – The Mississippi State Bulldogs held off a late-game surge by the UCLA Bruins Sunday to win, 89-73, and advance to their second straight Final Four.

Victoria Vivians had 24 points for the Bulldogs, while Teaira McCowan scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. Morgan William added 17 points and Roshunda Johnson, 12.

Down 50-32 midway through the third quarter, the Bruins stepped up their defense to begin sawing away at the lead. They closed the deficit to six at six different points in the final 6:50 of the game, but each time, Mississippi State had an answer. They made eight free throw shots in the final 51 seconds to seal the win.

Jordin Canada led UCLA with 23 points, Japreece Dean came off the bench for 16, and Monique Billings and Kennedy Burke each scored 12 points.

Game notes

● No. 1 Mississippi State advances to the NCAA Women’s Final Four to play No. 1 Louisville in the national semifinals in Columbus, Ohio on March 30 on ESPN2. Time to be announced. This will be the first meeting between the two programs.
● Junior Teaira McCowan grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds to set a new NCAA record for most rebounds in an NCAA Regional game (previous was 20 held by four players, last by Candyce Bingham, Louisville vs. North Carolina in the Regional semifinal, 3-29-02).
● This will be the second-straight Final Four appearance for Mississippi State and the first as a No. 1 seed. The Bulldogs advanced last year as a No. 2 seed and went on upset No. 1 UConn, 66-64, in overtime.
● Mississippi State is the eighth SEC team to win an NCAA Regional Championship, and the sixth to win multiple (MSU 2, Auburn 3, Georgia 5, LSU 5, South Carolina 2, Tennessee 18; through March 25). No other conference has won more NCAA Regional Championships than the SEC (39).
● UCLA finishes its season as an NCAA Regional runner-up for the second time in school history (1999), marking the two best finishes for the program in an NCAA Championship.
● This marked the 10th time in NCAA Championship history that a Pac-12 team has met an SEC team in the Regional Final. The Pac-12 and SEC are now tied 5-5 in these matchups.
● The SEC has had a team in the NCAA Regional Finals nine-straight seasons and 36-of-37 years (since 1982). Since 2010, the SEC has also sent six different teams to the NCAA Regional Finals.
● Kansas City All-Regional Team: Teaira McCowan, Co-Most Outstanding Player (Mississippi State), Victoria Vivians, Co-Most Outstanding Player (Mississippi State), Monique Billings (UCLA), Jordin Canada (UCLA), Kiara Leslie (NC State).
○ This was the first time players from the same team were named Co-Most Outstanding Players in a NCAA Regional, and first Co-MOP in NCAA Regional since 1990 (Carolyn Jones, Auburn, and Karen Deden, Washington).

Mississippi State notes

● Today’s match-up was the first-ever meeting between the UCLA and MSU. The Bulldogs
improved to 36-1 on the season, a school record for most wins, and 4-3 in the NCAA
● Head coach Vic Schaefer is now 160-52 in six seasons with MSU, including a 12-3 mark in
NCAA Championship games.
● After going 7-7 in their first seven NCAA Championship appearances, the Bulldogs are 11-2 in
their last three berths.
● The MSU quartet of Victoria Vivians (24), Teaira McCowan (23), Morgan William (17) and
Roshunda Johnson (12) all scored in double figures for the second-straight NCAA
Championship game.
● McCowan also recorded her 27th double-double of the year by halftime with 10 points, 11
rebounds, ending the game with 23 points and 21 rebounds.
● Senior Victoria Vivians led all scorers with 24 points, and has now scored double figures in 36
of State’s 37 games. The most points Vivians’ has scored in a single game at an NCAA
Championship is 24, which she has done three times in three consecutive years (2016 vs.
Michigan State; 2017 vs. Baylor; 2018 vs. UCLA).
● McCowan and Vivians are the only Mississippi State players to earn NCAA Regional All-
Tournament Team honors twice and in back-to-back seasons (2017 and 2018).

UCLA notes

● This was UCLA’s second appearance all-time in a NCAA Regional Final (1999, lost to La. Tech,
73-52). The Bruins are 18-15 all-time in the NCAA Championship, including an 8-4 mark under
head coach Cori Close.
● UCLA finished their season at 27-8 and are now 2-6 all-time in NCAA Regional matchups.
● Senior Jordin Canada has scored double figures in all 10 NCAA Championship games of her
career, including a team-high 23 points today. Canada added five assists tonight to solidify
herself as the all-time assist leader for UCLA (831). She has recorded at least one assist in 131
straight games.
● Canada is the only player in UCLA history to be named to a NCAA Regional All-Tournament
Team twice (2017 and 2018).
● UCLA held a 24-4 scoring advantage from the bench which came from Junior Japreece Dean
(16 points) and freshman Michaela Onyenwere (8 points). The Bruins lost for only the sixth
time this season when outscoring their opponent from the bench (18-6).
● The Pac-12 is 9-4 in NCAA Regional Final matchups since 2010 and has had a team in the NCAA
Regional Finals 27 of the past 37 years. UCLA and Oregon both advanced this season.