Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians was looking through the postgame box score when her eyes suddenly went wide. A few numbers had caught her eye.
“Dang, Teaira!” Vivians said.
Dang, indeed. Teaira McCowan had career-highs with both 31 points and 20 rebounds to lead No. 6 Mississippi State over Louisiana-Lafayette 94-37 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The 6-foot-7 McCowan has been a really good player on some great teams during her first two seasons with the program.
Now the Bulldogs need her to be one of the stars. She certainly looked the part against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“She’ll go for spurts where she’s locked in and she’s impacting the game on both ends,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “When she does that and we run our offense through her and not to her, that’s when we really get good.”
She couldn’t be stopped on Wednesday, making 15 of 20 shots from the field and had four blocked shots and three steals. Vivians added 16 points. Chloe Bibby and Blair Schaefer both added 13 points.
McCowan said that good passes from her guards, along with constant encouragement from Vic Schaefer, have pushed her to a new level.
“Even when I think I’m doing as much as I can, he’s always on me to give more and more,” McCowan said. “I’ve got to buy into it.”
Mississippi State (7-0) didn’t have much trouble in this one, jumping out to a 30-8 lead by the end of the first quarter and coasting the rest of the way. McCowan had 19 points and 12 rebounds by halftime, dominating the much smaller Ragin’ Cajuns.
Louisiana-Lafayette (2-5) was led by Skyler Goodwin, who scored 14 points. The Ragin’ Cajuns shot just 22 percent from the field.
“We’re not guarding, we’re just letting people score at will,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Garry Brodhead said. “I know they were bigger than us, but the consistency of what we do is important.”
Ole Miss women 65, MTSU 56: Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell preached toughness in every facet of the game in his pregame speech. As it turned out, the Rebels relied on exactly that to rally to victory over Middle Tennessee at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.
The Rebels’ senior leader, Shandricka Sessom, went down with a knee injury at the 2:01 mark of the opening quarter, and Ole Miss trailed by 12 after the opening period, but a tremendous second-half rally carried them through in a 65-56 win.
“We’ll know more on Shandricka in the morning,” Insell said. “I feel bad for her. She’s such a great kid. She’s in great spirits. She’s smiling. We’ve got a lot of injuries right now, but it’s next man up. We’ve got players playing in positions they’ve never played before right now, but you tell them what do to do and they do it. I’m so proud of them.”
The Blue Raider defense frustrated the Rebels in the early going, as they were held without a field goal through the first 9:26. Ole Miss found itself behind 17-5 after one quarter and trailed 26-17 at the half, but a dominant third quarter flipped the script, giving the advantage to the home team.