Senior center Teaira McCowan scored a game-high 30 points and senior forward Anriel Howard scored 13 of her 21 points in the first half to power No. 1 Mississippi State to an 85-61 victory over No. 9 Clemson in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament Portland Region on Sunday night at Starkville, Miss.
Playing on its home court, where it had won 15 of 16 games during the regular season, Mississippi State (32-2) took control in the first half and coasted into the Sweet 16.
The Bulldogs will play No. 5 Arizona State (22-10) in the Sweet 16 Friday night in Portland, Ore. Arizona State defeated Miami 57-55 in the second round earlier Sunday.
McCowan was dominant on the inside, hitting 14 of 17 shots from the field and grabbing 11 rebounds. Howard was 6 of 12 from the floor, made all nine of her free throws and had a team-high 14 rebounds. The Bulldogs also got 18 points from guard Jordan Danberry.
Mississippi State took a 23-10 lead with a minute left in the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Andra Espinoza-Hunter, capping a 15-4 run that spanned 4:49.
When Clemson went four consecutive possessions of the second quarter without scoring, the Bulldogs took advantage with three layups by McCowan in the final 1:45 of the period and led 41-22 at the half.
Mississippi State extended its lead to 52-28 in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Espinoza-Hunter. Clemson clawed back within 13 points late in the third quarter but could not get any closer.
Clemson (20-13) had four players in double figures: Danielle Edwards and Simone Westbrook with 14 each, Kobi Thornton with 12 and Aliyah Collier with 11.
—Field Level Media