Teaira McCowan pushes Mississippi State to NCAA championship game

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Ohio — Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan was asked if she ever would have believed as a freshman that she’d play 45 minutes in a game. She gave a look like, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

When you’re 6-foot-7, running up and down, nfl jerseys china and getting beaten up by the defense, time can feel like it’s doubled. You can really get worn out. But McCowan is now a junior, has gotten very fit, and was ready to stay on court as long as it took to beat Louisville on Friday.

For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs won an overtime game in the national semifinals and will play for the NCAA championship. Last year, it was a dramatic buzzer-beater by point guard Morgan William that led Mississippi State over UConn.

This time, it was another guard, Roshunda Johnson, who had a big shot in the closing seconds of regulation, and the Bulldogs then closed out a 73-63 overtime victory against their fellow No. 1-seeded Cardinals.

This was a game that was tough to predict, because the teams were so similar. And it turned out to be just what most people expected: a back-and-forth, nerve-wracking exercise in perseverance.

In the end, the Bulldogs were able to get a few more big plays. And they had the “Big T,” who grabbed a Women’s Final Four-record 25 rebounds to go with her 21 points and three blocked shots.

McCowan now has an NCAA single tournament-record 92 rebounds, with one more game to add to that total. She has 28 double-doubles this season, which is an SEC record, putting her ahead of league all-time greats Sylvia Fowles of LSU and Murriel Page of Florida.

“As for rebounds, Coach always says, ‘Go get them all,’ ” McCowan said. “So that’s what I try to do.”

Coach Vic Schaefer smiled at that and said, “She’s coachable.”

The 37-1 Bulldogs’ only loss was in the SEC tournament final against South Carolina when McCowan got into foul trouble. That resulted in their lowest point total, 51.

Friday’s semifinal was against a very tough Louisville defense,nfl wholesale jerseys and it looked in the fourth quarter as if the Cardinals would prevail. They led by as much as seven with 7 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game. And senior Victoria Vivians, the Bulldogs’ top scorer this season, had four fouls.