No. 10 Mississippi State women beat Ole Miss
STARKVILLE – Mississippi guard Alissa Alston looked like she had an open lane to the basket and went straight for it, trying to keep the Rebels close as the first half wound down.
Instead, Mississippi State’s 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan flashed across the lane, reaching a huge hand up and swatting the ball out of bounds.
The crowd roared its approval. McCowan couldn’t help but flash a little grin.
The Bulldogs’ rout was well underway.
No. 10 Mississippi State easily beat Mississippi 79-51 on Monday night thanks to a dominant defense that held the Rebels to just 33.9 percent shooting (19 of 56) from the field.
“We came out and punched first,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
Mississippi State led the entire game against its in-state rival. Morgan William scored 16 points, Chinwe Okorie added 14 and the Bulldogs (17-2, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from a loss at Missouri last week to win for the 12th time in 13 games.
The 28-point win was the largest margin of victory for Mississippi State in the rivalry’s 90-game history. The attendance of 7,128 was the second-largest in school history.
Ole Miss (9-9, 1-4) has lost four straight games, all by double digits. Shandricka Sessom scored 14 points to lead the Rebels.
“Is that a final score that I think showed the difference between the two teams? No, I don’t think so at all,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. “But that’s what happens when you get down and they get the crowd and the emotion into it.”
The Bulldogs gave up just eight points in the second quarter to turn a tight game into a 39-23 halftime advantage.
Mississippi State dominated in the post, outscoring Ole Miss 38-14 in the paint and outrebounding the Rebels 46-29.
Okorie, a 6-foot-5 forward, shot 5 of 6 from the field and added seven rebounds. McCowan was also 5 of 6 from the field, adding 10 points, while also grabbing three offensive rebounds.
The Bulldogs controlled the game from the opening tip, jumping out to a 13-4 lead midway through the first quarter.
Ole Miss responded to close the gap to 17-15 by the end of the first, but Mississippi State slowly pulled away for the 16-point halftime lead.
The Rebels were hurt by a four-point swing midway through the second quarter. Erika Sisk was called for a foul on Mississippi State’s William and then Insell received a technical for arguing. William hit all four of the free throws to push the Bulldogs ahead 29-18.
Mississippi State won easily despite an off-night for leading scorer Victoria Vivians. She averages 18 points per game, but had just three points in the first half while the Bulldogs built their lead and finished with eight.
By David Brandt, AP Sports Writer