Women's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Kansas City Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

Kansas City Elite 8 Game Breakdown
Teaira McCowan was unstoppable on Friday night for Mississippi State in a 71-57 win over North Carolina State. McCowan scored 24 points on 11 of 11 shooting from the floor and collected 15 rebounds. The Wolfpack tried everything defensively to slow down McCowan by switching defenses but in the end, they couldn’t slow her down at all. The Bulldogs also controlled things in the backcourt as Victoria Vivians scored 14 points, Morgan William had 13, and Roshunda Johnson added 12 points.  Sharing the basketball was also a huge reason why Mississippi State moved on as they had 14 assists on 28 made field goals. The team defense for the Bulldogs was also outstanding as they limited North Carolina State to just 38.5 percent shooting and just seven assists on 20 made field goals. In addition, outside of Kiara Leslie’s 27 points the rest of the Wolfpack just couldn’t get anything going against Mississippi State.
UCLA is in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1999 after outlasting Texas 84-75 in the nightcap of the Sweet 16. Jordin Canada scored 22 points, Monique Billings had 17 points and Kennedy Burke added 15 points to pace the Bruins offensive attack. The speed, aggressiveness, and physicality of UCLA stood out in this game as they always had an answer for the Longhorns when they made a run. Points off turnovers was a gamechanger as well for the Bruins as they scored 31 points off 21 Texas turnovers, including 12 steals. The rebounding battle was also won by the Bruins led by Monique Billings’ 12 rebounds as she went back and forth with Jatarie White all game long. 
Looking ahead to this Elite Eight matchup on Sunday, it should bring about a nice contrast in styles. For the Bulldogs, they are going to want to keep the Bruins in front of them as much as possible defensively in this game. Thus, the backcourt trio of Vivians, William, and Blair Schaefer will need to take care of the basketball and make UCLA play more of a half court type of game. The battle of the bigs for Mississippi State is going to be a fun storyline to watch as McCowan will have a stiff test going up against Billings down low. McCowan is going to have to stay aggressive like she was against North Carolina State and try and get Billings in early foul trouble.
For the Bruins, the guard play of Canada and Burke is going to dictate the direction of this game from the start. Canada is a dynamic enough playmaker to cause the Bulldog backcourt problems as she might be the fastest guard in the country. Defensive pressure is going to be key as well for UCLA as they will need to create extra possessions for themselves by winning the turnover battle and make Mississippi State pay at the offensive end with easy transition baskets. Poise is going to be important for the Bruins as this is the first time for this group to play in an Elite Eight. If UCLA can weather the storm early and keep the game close after a quarter, then they should be able to settle in nicely against the Bulldogs. This contest should be fast paced and have both teams score well into 75-80-point range without too much of a problem.