Howard leads No. 6 Mississippi St past Lamar 104-53
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Vic Schaefer takes pride in having an offense that protects the basketball and by the first media timeout on Thursday night he had already shed his jacket in frustration.
No. 6 Mississippi State would recover from its slow start to blow past Lamar 104-53 in nonconference action at Humphrey Coliseum, but not before the Cardinals would frustrate the Bulldogs for much of the first half. Mississippi State led just 35-28 at halftime after Lamar forced 12 turnovers, including 10 steals.
The Bulldogs (3-0) responded by scoring 69 points in the second half and taking better care of the ball.
“I’m very pleased with the second half and extremely disappointed with the first half,” Schaefer said. “We just turned it over too much. 20 turnovers is way too big a number. We’ve got to learn to take care of the ball better.”
Lamar’s good start didn’t last as Mississippi State’s depth slowly wore the Cardinals down. Mississippi State had five different players score in double figures, led by Anriel Howard and Teaira McCowan, who both had double-doubles.
For Howard, it was her best night as a Bulldog. The graduate transfer from Texas A&M poured in 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Howard scored 21 of those points in the second half on 8 of 11 shooting from the field.
“I think the first quarter I didn’t come out aggressive on offense like I could have,” Howard said. “I felt like I had to help out a little bit more.”
McCowan had 11 points and 16 rebounds for her ninth-straight double-double dating back to last season.
The Cardinals (3-1) were led by Chastadie Barrs who had 16 points and four steals, but lost the rebounding battle 64-32.
Lamar’s defense was impressive, especially in the first half. The Cardinals led the nation in steals a year ago, and their 14 steals were the most the Bulldogs have allowed since 2015.
“I think that we played really well for the first two quarters but we played a really good team and the wheels came off in the second half,” Lamar coach Robin Harmony said. “They got to the cup the entire time in the second half and they made their shots.”
After leading 35-28 at halftime, the Bulldogs had a 42-15 advantage in the third quarter that included an 18-0 run.
With McCowan in foul trouble in the second half, freshman center Jessika Carter stepped up for the Bulldogs.
The Georgia native had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 18 minutes, all career highs.
Lamar: The nation’s leader in steals the last two seasons, the Cardinals were especially tough to deal with for the Bulldogs through two quarters. But a halftime adjustment and the size and skill of Mississippi State proved too tough.
Mississippi State: For the second time in as many home games, the Bulldogs were sloppy in the opening minutes. As rough as it was in the first half, the second half showed the quality depth that this team possesses as five players scored in double figures. Jordan Danberry scored 15 points, Chloe Bibby had 11 points and Carter added 10.
Mississippi State hosts Coppin State on Sunday.
Lamar hosts LeTourneau on Tuesday.