It was the story of arguably the nation’s best one-two punch and without question best duo in the paint. Seniors Teaira McCowan and Anriel Howard, who combined for 46 points and 26 rebounds posted double-doubles respectively, ultimately propelling the Bulldogs into the final with ease. McCowan and Howard have gelled throughout the season and have been at their best at the right time.
Mississippi State, now 29-2, is playing its best basketball. That said, McCowan did have four fouls. She must stay out of foul trouble come the final and beyond. Without McCowan, the Bulldogs are exploited, plain and simple. Yet, she was able manage and put forth another dominant performance.
Howard, whose energy lifts this team, is a proven scoring threat and has improved defensively. Expect her to become more of a defensive presence down the road. She also a scorer, and can do so at will. One of the best two-way players in the game, Howard should continue to have her way.
In addition to McCowan and Howard, guards Jordan Danberry and Jazzmun Holmes combined for 18 points and nine assists. While each can score, both are selfless and make the right play when necessary. Having said that, Danberry and Holmes’ defense tends to show up at this time of year. Each are known to make game changing plays late in games, ultimately turning the tide.
As she has been on a scoring tear as of late, especially from distance, sniper Andra-Espinoza Hunter was held in check to just four points. Look for this to be a mere aberration. Hunter will have to be a scoring factor going forward. When her three-point-shot is there, the Bulldogs are virtually unstoppable. Expect Hunter to make the necessary changes and get more involved in the final.
Overall, it was a great win for the maroon and white, as big things are to come in the final.