Madness: MSU women win wild game against Marquette

Mississippi State's Teaira McCowan takes a shot.

Staff Writer

March is far off into the distance when college basketball hits its peak, but the madness was alive and well at Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday night.

It was a game that lived up to the billing of two top 20 teams and No. 15 Marquette gave the No. 6 Mississippi State Bulldogs all they could handle down to the final seconds. State used a lay in the final 10 seconds by Chloe Bibby and the sophomore forward also had an ensuing block to survive an instant classic as it beat the Golden Eagles 87-82 in front of 7,273 fans.

The victory was the 45th consecutive regular season non-conference win by the Bulldogs dating back to 2015. They’ve won 26-straight games at the Humphrey Coliseum overall, which is the third-longest streak nationally.

“We needed every point we got,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I’m sure there were a lot of people there that thought that was a great game. Giving up 82 points, coach probably isn’t going to sleep for a few days.”

It was a starting five for Marquette filled with experience as the five seniors gave the Bulldogs fits with their speed. The group hit 54 percent of their shots in the game and eight 3-pointers led by Danielle King, who had 27 points on 13-of-21 shooting. The Golden Eagles had four of the starters in double figures in the game.

While Marquette had the speed, MSU had the size advantage and that would overwhelm in the end.

The duo of Teaira McCowan and Anriel Howard combined for 30 rebounds themselves while the Eagles had just 27 as a team. Howard had a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds and McCowan finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds hitting 9-of-12 shots and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.

Marquette appeared to be taking full control of the game as the first half was coming to a close when it led 38-30 with under 3 minutes left prompting a Schaefer timeout. The Bulldogs closed the half strong, however, holding the Golden Eagles scoreless over the final 3 minutes and ending the half on a 12-0 run as they took the 42-38 lead at the break.

Marquette had no plans of melting after that run by MSU, however.

The veteran lineup came out running in the third quarter and quickened the pace to get back in the game and ultimately gain some control. With 4 minutes left in the third, it was déjà vu for State’s squad as the Golden Eagles had jumped out to a seven-point advantage. MSU closed the quarter with another good run scoring the last eight points and retaking the lead at 63-62 going to the final quarter.

The wild stretch continued into the fourth quarter as much as any other. The two teams traded buckets all the way down to the final minute of the game when Schaefer brought back in Bibby, who had struggled with just 1-of-6 shooting to that point and four points.

With a one-point lead, a loose ball trickled down the court to McCowan who found a wide open Bibby breaking to the goal for a score with 8 seconds remaining. Bibby then closed on Marquette’s Natisha Hiedeman for a blocked 3-point shot to seal the victory.  

“They needed a 3 and I was going to give them anything but a 3,” Bibby said. “I was going to let her go by. I just didn’t want to let her get that 3.”

The victory over last season’s Big East champions was a big one for the Bulldogs, but it worried Schaefer for the future. State allowed the Marquette guards to score at a high rate. Though senior guard Jazzmun Holmes had a career-high 13 assists to just one turnover, she and Danberry didn’t play up to Schaefer’s standards on defense.

Schaefer will take the win over a top 15 opponent, but there’s another monster coming down the pipe after the Bulldogs travel to Southern Miss next Friday. State will follow that game up with No. 3 Oregon on the road, which will play at a similar pace to Marquette and with another strong set of guards to contend.

The coach just wants his team to be better than surrendering a season-high 82 points.

“I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had a team give up 21 fast break points, much less 21 fast break points and win,” Schaefer said. “I’m proud of us for finding a way on not our best night. I think that speaks well for our kids and our team. We’re a long way from being a finished product.”