Mississippi State, Oklahoma State poised for rematch

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Dealing with a press defense, Oklahoma State was forced to change its style.

And boy did it work.

The Cowgirls, normally a pound-it-to-the-post offense, found open shooters and made 13 of 23 3-pointers as they routed Syracuse 84-57 to set up a rematch with the Kansas City Region's top seed.

Oklahoma State (21-10), the ninth seed, will face Mississippi State (33-1) on Monday in Starkville, Miss., in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Redshirt freshman shooting guard Jaden Hobbs had a breakout performance in the win over the Orange.

Hobbs, who hadn't made more than four field goals in a game, hit eight 3-pointers, doubling her career high with 27 points in the win.

"She hasn't had games like this, guys. I'm not gonna pretend," Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said, according to the (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion Ledger. "She had an incredible night tonight, but it's always been capable."

Hobbs, who came in averaging four points per game, agreed.

"It was surprising I was in that position," Hobbs said. "But I had confidence I could do it."

Facing the defending champion Bulldogs poses some bigger challenges -- but they're familiar ones.

Mississippi State beat the Cowgirls 79-76 in Starkville in December. It was the Bulldogs' smallest margin of victory this season.

"They're playing at a really high level," Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said of the Cowgirls. "They came in here, and to me, they looked really focused, and I'm sure our game here hasn't left their mind. They played us awfully well and they probably want another shot."

Mississippi State senior guard Victoria Vivians had 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting in the Bulldogs' win over Oklahoma State. Cowgirls guard Loryn Goodwin scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Bulldogs' vaunted defense.

"We know their program is built on defense and Vic always has his teams ready," Littell said.

"But you never know. I told our kids I know they've got a great team. You don't win the SEC and (33) games without being incredible as a team, having good players and being really well coached.

"But we're excited about being here and having the opportunity to play. Crazy things happen in this game."

Mississippi State had little trouble with No. 16 Nicholls State in a 95-50 opening-round win. But that didn't mean Schaefer didn't find some faults with his team.

"We had a lot of rust to knock off. I think everybody sees that," Schaefer said, according to the (Starkville) Dispatch. "It is my job to try to help get that rust knocked off, and right now I am obviously not doing a very good job. We are really rusty in a lot of areas."

Vivians had her fourth double-double (20 points, 13 rebounds) of the season but the Bulldogs committed 16 turnovers, drawing their coach's ire.

"We're not very sharp," Schaefer said. "We have got basically 48 hours to figure it out."