comscore Mississippi State women earn first Final Four berth | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Mississippi State women earn first Final Four berth

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Mississippi State’s Morgan William, right, celebrated with Breanna Richardson after a regional final win over Baylor.

OKLAHOMA CITY >> Morgan William gave her late stepfather the ultimate tribute.

The 5-foot-5 point guard scored a career-high 41 points and second-seeded Mississippi State upset top-seeded Baylor 94-85 in overtime today to reach the Final Four for the first time.

The win came three years and a day after William’s stepfather, Donnie Rory, passed away. After she was named Most Outstanding Player of the regional, she dedicated the victory and the performance to him.

“He’s the reason I am where I am today with basketball,” she said. “He just did so much for me, working out when I was younger. He had no doubt because of my height. We put in so much work in the gym. For me to just come out here and do this, it’s amazing. I just wish he was here to see it.”

William scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and 12 points in overtime to set school and Southeastern Conference records for most points in an NCAA Tournament game. She made 13 of 22 shots, including 6 of 8 3-pointers. She also had seven assists and no turnovers.

Victoria Vivians scored 24 points and Teaira McCowan added 10 for Mississippi State (33-4) in a game that featured 24 lead changes.

Kalani Brown scored 27 points and Nina Davis had 18 for Baylor (33-4), which lost in the Elite Eight for the fourth consecutive year.

“At Baylor, we have expectations that are higher than an Elite Eight,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “Whether that’s egotistical, fair, whatever, it is what it is. We have to keep feeding that monster that we started 17 years ago.”

Davis, one of the most decorated players in school history, played in all four of those Elite Eight losses. She thought this one would turn out differently.

“Every time we would get the lead, they would come down and shoot a 3, we would foul, and could never get that one stop that we needed,” she said.

William’s layup with 22 seconds left in regulation forced overtime. Mississippi State outscored Baylor 19-10 in the extra period.

“It took a gut-check, gut-wrenching performance by our kids today and we delivered,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought our kids were unflappable. I thought they were resilient. They showed tremendous toughness, a lot of character in their heart.”

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