Smith on Sports: MSU was too much for Nicholls to handle

Danny P. Smith
Staff Writer

It’s usually pretty tough to beat a basketball team when one of its players gets a double-double.
How about when two players do it like Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan did for the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday?
The Nicholls Colonels never really had a chance.

McCowan had 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Vivians added 20 points and 13 boards to lead the Bulldogs to a 95-50 victory over the Colonels at Humphrey Coliseum in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

It was pure domination from beginning to end for MSU as McCowan and Vivians were working the inside-outside game in an impressive manner.

Vivians hit 6-of-14 shots from the field and her rebounding total was a career-high, while McCowan grabbed 10 defensive boards along with hitting six out of her eight shots.

Add in what Blair Schaefer, Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson and the other Bulldogs were able to do and it was too much for the Colonels to handle.

At the end of the day, unlike the UMBC-Virginia men’s game on Friday night, the No. 1 seed MSU overwhelmed No. 16 Nicholls.

The Colonels could not control Vivians and certainly had no answer for McCowan.

“We really looked at it as a David and Goliath battle as a whole,” Nicholls center Marina Lilly said. “We were just trying to hold onto details of what coaches told us to do.”

It’s not the only time this season that the Bulldogs imposed their will on an opponent. When they get on a roll, there aren’t many teams across the country that can stop them.

MSU jumped out to a 30-point lead at halftime and never looked back.

After taking a 21-13 lead after the first quarter, the Bulldogs really poured it on in the second quarter and outscored the Colonels 33-11 in the second 10 minutes.

McCowan and Schaefer had 15 points each by halftime and Vivians had 12. There were no Colonels in double digits.

Even with the impressive score and point spread against the Colonels, there were still some areas where MSU coach Vic Schaefer felt like his team wasn’t as sharp. He was not happy that the Bulldogs did not start well in the first quarter.

Now MSU and Oklahoma State meet in the second round on Monday night for a trip to the Sweet 16 at stake. The 8 p.m. tip was not a popular start time when it was announced at the Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday night, but those people will be back and Schaefer knows they will make a difference.

There were 10,211 fans in attendance on Saturday and Schaefer said it made a difference.

“Our crowd is one of a kind and you can’t say enough about them,” Schaefer said. “It’s such a positive thing.”

It can be a sweet situation for the third-straight season if the Bulldogs can win in front of their fans one more time on Monday night.

Danny P. Smith is the sports editor and columnist for The Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SDN or its staff.