OKLAHOMA CITY -- The college career of the top scorer in NCAA women's basketball history, Washington's Kelsey Plum, ended Friday. But the ascension of Mississippi State sophomore Teaira McCowan might have just begun.
McCowan, a 6-foot-7 center, took over the game in the fourth quarter in the Bulldogs' 75-64 victory over the Huskies in the Sweet 16 of the Oklahoma City Regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena. McCowan finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. She scored 16 consecutive points at the start of the fourth quarter.
Plum wasn't quite her usual self in the first half, scoring 10 points. But she finished with 29 to end her career with an NCAA-record total of 3,527. This season, Plum scored 1,109.
"I thought [Dominique] Dillingham did a great job and made it difficult for me," said Plum, who was 10 of 25 from the field. "Their team in the paint is very big, very athletic."
Plum shed some tears when she was asked about finishing her days at Washington.
"When I first came on campus, I had big dreams for our program, and a lot of them came true," she said. "I'm very grateful the university has been classy and supporting me through this entire thing. I've really built a family there, so it's going to be really difficult to say goodbye."
Plum and fellow senior Chantel Osahor, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds on Friday, helped lead Washington to its first Final Four last season. Now the two look forward to the WNBA draft.
Mississippi State led 38-29 at halftime after shooting 52.4 percent in the second quarter. Bulldogs leading scorer Victoria Vivians had an excellent second quarter, with nine points and two assists. But Vivians didn't start the third quarter, as coach Vic Schaefer stuck with his original starting lineup. And she couldn't get back in that same flow in the third quarter, after which Mississippi State trailed 50-48.
But the Bulldogs went on an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter, fueled by McCowan, who had all 11 points. And she wasn't done. McCowan totaled 20 points in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: McCowan, who had not started this season until the NCAA tournament -- and started only one game as a freshman last season -- took over both offensively and defensively. She had more points in the fourth quarter alone Friday than she had combined (17) in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Turning point: Once again, McCowan was everything in changing the tone of this game. Her confidence appeared to soar as the fourth quarter went on. And as that happened, the Huskies seemed to tire, making it even more difficult to guard McCowan.
How it was won: Mississippi State owned the second and fourth quarters, scoring 25 and 27 points, respectively, in those two periods. They shot exactly the same -- 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) -- from the field in both quarters.
X factor: Mississippi State guard Blair Schaefer scored 10 points. The Bulldogs weren't very effective from the perimeter, going 3-of-16 from 3-point range, but Schaefer hit some big shots to help their effort, especially in the first half.
Stat of the game: Mississippi State benefited from its size advantage, outrebounding Washington 49-34. The Bulldogs had 21 offensive rebounds.
What's next: Mississippi State moves on to face the winner of the Baylor-Louisville game for a trip to the Final Four in Dallas. Washington ends its season at 29-6.