COLUMBUS, Ohio – The dramatic was missing Completing the overtone shocker Mississippi State over UConn a year ago on the same stage, but the Bulldogs are back on the national championship game to Louisville 73-63 in overtime Friday.
The game resulted in 1
The Cardinals had a three-point lead with five seconds when Roshunda Johnson of Mississippi State came off of a McCowan canvas and hit the biggest 3-pointer of her life. After two missed misses from Louisville at the other end, the game went into extra time.
The Bulldogs dominated the extra five minutes, with Victoria Vivians starting with a 3-pointer and McCowan snatching seven rebounds. Junior Guard Jordan Danberry, an unknown hero for Mississippi State, came off the bench to score 10 points (she had nine in the NCAA tournament coming in Friday) and help keep Louisville Star and ACC Player of the Year Asia Durr 6 -of- 17 shots, including a 0-for-2 effort in overtime. Vivian led all scorers with 25 points, before fouling with 1:18 in OT.
Player of the Game: McCowan and Vivian's Most Outstanding Player Split Honored in Kansas City Regional and Re-Engaged. The Mississippi state would not have won without both. McCowan also had 21 points to go on board with her dominance, the second time in the NCAA tournament she had at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in one game. It was sometimes Bulldog's best offense to allow McCowan to turn offensive rebounds into putbacks. She did so four times in the first half and helped Mississippi State to a 31-30 lead.
But Vivians was the best offensive player on the floor. Foul anger was the only thing that slowed her down. She scored 11-for-21 from the field and scored the first five points of Mississippi State in overtime. Their return to the game with 6:59 in the fourth quarter left with four fouls an 8-0 run, clearing Louisville's biggest lead, 53-46
As it Won: Johnson's shot will not be remembered as Morgan Williams did last year when defeating UConn, but it was enormous. After Missisippi State inexplicably released Myisha Hines-Allen for a lay-up and a 59-56 Cardinals lead, the ball returned 11 seconds before the midcourt, after he had timed out. Louis Walzer's coach Jeff Walz decided not to frustrate the three-point lead, and Johnson let him pay.
With Blair Schaefer as the decoy, Johnson found himself on the left wing and emptied the long jumper.
The Cardinals Fast The ball raced up the hill and Hines-Allen drove all the way to the basket. With McCowan defended the Louisville senior the controversial layup. Jazmine Jones grabbed the rebound and fired an uncontested putback that was just rolling off the edge as the buzzer sounded. Louisville's best chance of winning disappeared with this failure.
Vivians opened the score with a 3-pointer from the right wing and the Bulldogs never retraced, outscoring Louisville 14-4 in overtime.
Stat of the Game: Two of the most efficient offenses in the country have shot the ball poorly most of the time. Louisville hit only 36.6 percent of his shots. Mississippi State ended at 40.3 percent. Especially the two stars of the Cardinals – Durr and Hines-Allen – had problems. Durr was 6 of 17 and Hines-Allen, after beating the entire second quarter because of lazy trouble and not scoring in the first half, finished 5-of-18. Vivian and McCowan Joined a 19-of-33
In a game that was extremely physical from the opening tip, Mississippi State was also the more aggressive team. This, combined with McCowan's presence, helped the Bulldogs get 25 times in the lead. McCowan was 7 of 9. Louisville was only 5-of-7 from the free-throw line.
What Next: Mississippi State survives to play the winner of the Notre Dame-UConn Matchup on Sunday (ESPN, 6pm ET). Like last year, the Bulldogs will enter the championship game after a hard semifinal victory. McCowan will need the most extra rest. She played every 45 minutes.