Banner day: Bulldogs remember accomplishment, then ground Eagles

Mississippi State women's basketball Final Four/National Finalist banner-raising ceremony

Staff Writer

For the second-straight season, Mississippi State’s women’s basketball team had a Final Four/National Finalists banner presentation at Humphrey Coliseum.

The No. 6 Bulldogs have cemented themselves among the nation’s elite and they have no business of leaving that spot any time soon if Sunday was any indication.

A 41-point first quarter put Coppin State away swiftly as Mississippi State put seven players in double figures and rolled over the Eagles 110-38.

Bulldog head coach Vic Schaefer rounded up his team shortly after the second Final Four banner was raised to the rafters and spoke to them about what it represented and the new standard in place in Starkville. They responded by forcing 31 turnovers and turning those into 50 points in the win.

It was a defensive performance that the coach said was closer to his standards than recent games.

“We were talking in pre game about the standard and I was really proud of how we came out and started the game," Schaefer said. "We’re looking for that consistency right now and we haven’t had it. I was pleased with our energy level.”

Mississippi State had a game-high 23 points from preseason Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Teaira McCowan, who had six rebounds and five blocked shots in 19 minutes. Her backup, freshman Jessika Carter, added 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.

The Bulldogs didn’t surrender a field goal in the game until 8:08 in the second quarter as they led 64-16 at the half. The 41 points scored in the opening frame were second-most in school history just shy of last week’s 42 scored against Lamar in the third quarter.

“It’s all in the mindset,” McCowan said. “What we do here is play hard and work hard.”

Chance Graham was high scorer for the Eagles (0-4) with 16 points and had a double-double with 10 rebounds. Coppin State was Mississippi State 40th-consecutive victim in a non-conference regular season matchup and it has won 23-straight games at home.

Anriel Howard had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Bulldogs and they had 16 points from Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who was 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Chloe Bibby finished with 11 points, Jordan Danberry and Bre’Amber Scott had 10 points each.

“I think we’ve worked hard at putting our head down and running,” Schaefer said. “If you can play defense, get a stop and a rebound, we’ve got a chance to get out and run. Our point guards are really good pushing it.”

Mississippi State (4-0) shot 63 percent in the game and allowed the Eagles to make just 20 percent of their shots. The Bulldogs also had a 68-10 advantage in the paint.

The Bulldogs are back in action on Wednesday afternoon for a special 2 p.m. start time on the Thanksgiving holidays. MSU welcomes in Furman for the fifth game of the season.