McCowan, Howard lead Dawgs in tourney opener

 

Mississippi State forward Anriel Howard (5) shoots a 3-point shot over the extended arm of Southern University defender Skylar O’Bear (4) during the first half of their NCAA women’s first round game Friday night in Starkville.

Mississippi State forward Anriel Howard (5) shoots a 3-point shot over the extended arm of Southern University defender Skylar O’Bear (4) during the first half of their NCAA women’s first round game Friday night in Starkville. Photo by: Jim Lytle/Special to the Dispatch

 

 

 

By Paul D. Bowker 

 

 

 

Teaira McCowan and Anriel Howard put on a show in Friday night's first round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

They both delivered double-doubles, McCowan doing so before the game was half over. 

 

Howard, a post-grad forward, scored a game-high 23 points and had 12 rebounds. McCowan, a senior center, scored 22 points and had a game-high 16 rebounds in MSU's dominating 103-46 win over Southern University. 

 

The Bulldogs (31-2) face Clemson (20-12) at 8 p.m. Sunday (ESPN) at Humphrey Coliseum with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. 

 

The Bulldogs displayed signs of brilliance Friday night. After falling behind 3-2 in the game's second minute on a 3-pointer by Southern's Rishonti Cowart, the Bulldogs charged ahead quickly. A nine-point run, including a three-point play by McCowan, put them up by eight. They pushed the lead to 20 before the first quarter was over. 

 

Bre'Amber Scott, a sophomore guard, came off the bench and scored 18 points and had a game-high 4 steals. Jordan Danberry added 13 points and Jazzmun Holmes scored 10. 

 

Skylar O'Bear led Southern (20-13) with 9 points. Alyric Scott had 8 points and 5 rebounds. 

 

Using a smothering full-court press, MSU put on a defensive clinic in the third quarter. The Dawgs held Southern scoreless for more than five minutes. Southern scored just two baskets in the quarter and trailed by 52 by the time the final quarter started. 

 

"I knew it was going to be a battle," said Southern head coach Carlos Funchess, a Mississippi native who once played against MSU head coach Vic Schaefer when Schaefer was a men's assistant coach. 

 

At the same time, MSU battled within the game, even though the final score won't show it. 

 

Once the Bulldog starters came out and the team's bench players went in, play got sloppy in the second quarter. Southern actually outscored MSU, 19-18. The Jaguars still trailed by 26 points. 

 

"I was proud of our first quarter and our third quarter," Schaefer said. "In between is what got me a little upset. I was not very pleased." 

 

There was at least one player that Schaefer benched because of a lack of effort. 

 

"Sometimes we get a little sidetracked or not really all dialed in to what we practiced," McCowan said. 

 

That all changed in the third quarter. All the starters went back in and shut down Southern with a defensive intensity that the Jaguars had never seen before. The Bulldogs pressured every possession and the Jaguars at times couldn't get the ball past midcourt. 

 

Southern missed 13 of 15 shots. MSU outrebounded Southern, 19-5. The Bulldogs outscored them 31-5. 

 

As the fourth quarter went on, the starters returned to the bench, each time receiving an ovation from the sellout crowd. The job was finished. 

 

The Bulldogs hit triple figures when Myah Taylor hit a layup following a defensive block. MSU has scored 204 points in its last two games and reached 100 points eight times this season.

 

 

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