By just looking at the final score, you would think State had just completed another beatdown of a less talented Ole Miss team. However, after taking a closer look, the game was less than perfect and exposed one of State’s biggest weaknesses: foul trouble.
State got off to a quick start, leading 19-4 at the end of the 1st quarter, but not before McCowan was called for two early fouls that had her watching from the bench for the remainder of the 1st and the entirety of the 2nd quarter. Her replacement, redshirt sophomore Zion Campbell, held her own and definitely raised some eyebrows, but she, too, found herself in foul trouble going into the second half. Coach Schaefer deemed Campbell to be a little more expendable, as she continued to play in place of McCowan despite having four fouls late in the third quarter. In quick succession, Campbell picked up her fifth and final foul, forcing Coach Schaefer to bring McCowan back into the game late in the third quarter with three fouls. McCowan finished the game with 6 points and 10 rebounds, but could not get into a groove offensively.
While McCowan watched from the sidelines, Vivians also found herself in foul trouble early in the third quarter after picking up her third foul. She and McCowan sat for the majority of the 2nd and 3rd quarters, and with Roshunda Johnson not shooting as well as she has been, the offense sputtered and the defense gave up some sloppy points. The result being that Ole Miss outscored the Bulldogs 16-13 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, with many of the players on both sides with three and four fouls, Johnson went from one foul to four fouls in the span of less than a minute, garnering boos and shouts of frustration from State fans. That seemed to be the game in a nutshell, one characterized by an abundance of whistle-blowing (a theme that SEC basketball fans are growing weary of). However, State’s struggles weren’t all in part due to foul trouble, but a fairly lackadaisical second half that contributed to the seemingly slow pace of the game.
I’m not saying the Bulldogs are in trouble. They have all the talent and experience they need, and a coach that knows how to get the most out of his players, but State will have to eliminate the mental errors and stay out of foul trouble with Missouri and South Carolina on the horizon.