STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan had already played a dominant game and was well on her way to a 25-point, 13-rebound performance when an Ole Miss guard tried to sneak a layup past the 6-foot-7 center late in the fourth quarter.
The thunderous block that followed nearly took off a cameraman’s head behind the basket. She couldn’t help but grin.
”I impressed myself,” McCowan said.
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She wasn’t the only one. Another stellar night from McCowan helped No. 4 Mississippi State beat Mississippi 76-45 on Thursday. The Bulldogs (18-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) won their eighth straight game in the series against their in-state rivals.
McCowan shot 12 of 13 from the field and added four blocks in just 26 minutes on the floor. The junior is averaging about 21 points and 13 rebounds per game this season and has nine double-doubles in her past 10 games.
”She’s realizing how great she really is,” Mississippi State guard Blair Schaefer said.
Mississippi State jumped out to a 14-0 lead in less than five minutes, getting two 3-pointers from Schaefer during the run. That pushed the near-capacity crowd at Humphrey Coliseum to full volume, and the Rebels looked as though they might get blown out early.
But Mississippi State stars Victoria Vivians and McCowan both picked up two fouls by early in the second quarter and that allowed Ole Miss to hang around. The Bulldogs led 34-22 at halftime.
Ole Miss (11-6, 1-3) cut its deficit to 36-29 early in the third period on Chyna Nixon’s layup, but got no closer. The Bulldogs extended their advantage to 56-38 by the end of the third and coasted from there.
”I’m proud of a lot of things tonight,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. ”I thought we responded tonight and showed some toughness in some situations where maybe we haven’t in the past.”
Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said his team played hard, but had no answer for McCowan. Her 12-of-13 shooting performance (92.3 percent) tied her own school record for shooting percentage in a game.
”She’s one of the best players in college basketball,” Insell said.
Vivians scored 15 points and Schaefer added 14. Ole Miss was led by Madinah Muhammad, who scored 14.
Mississippi State shot 53.2 percent from the field, while Ole Miss shot just 26.7 percent.
”We’ve got to grow up a little bit,” Insell said. ”I told them that in the locker room. We’re a lot younger than State. They’ve got a lot more experience than we do and they played like it.”
Ole Miss: The Rebels played fairly well for a big chunk of the night, but couldn’t recover from their terrible start. McCowan was able to get free for open looks near the rim and when that happens, Mississippi State is awfully difficult to stop.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs fought foul trouble, but still came out with a decisive win. The problem going forward is that when Vivians and McCowan aren’t on the court, Mississippi State is really struggling. That’s got to change if Mississippi State wants to make it back to the Final Four.
Ole Miss has a week off before hosting Missouri next Thursday.
Mississippi State hosts Alabama on Sunday.
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