BATON ROUGE, La. — Teaira McCowan was out of position and out of sorts in the first half of No. 5 Mississippi State game with LSU Sunday, but the 6-foot-7 junior center reasserted herself in the second to finish with 31 points and 20 rebounds in an 83-70 victory.
McCowan had 23 and 12 rebounds after intermission to keep Mississippi State unbeaten at 17-0, 3-0 in Southeastern Conference play. McCowan wasted little time getting on track, scoring her team’s first nine points of the second half to expand a nine-point halftime lead to 53-37. LSU (10-4, 2-1) got no closer than 10 points the rest of the game. McCowan made only three of 10 shots in the first half as LSU kept her uncomfortable by pushing her off the block
“They had me pushed way out, somewhere I shouldn’t be,” said McCowan, who had at least 30 points and 20 rebounds for the second time this season. “I should be on the block, catching it low and scoring. I had to find myself. Thanks to my teammates for getting me the ball. When they weren’t knocking down shots, they were rebounding. They’re helping me and I’m helping them.”
Morgan William scored 13 points and Chloe Bibby had 10 for Mississippi State, whose bench outscored LSU’s 16-2. While McCowan was trying to find herself in the first half, Mississippi State’s outside shooters hit five-of-seven shots from 3-point range.
“The general plan was to try and disrupt the ballhandlers and not let them have easy passes inside,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “We wanted to be more physical and try to beat her to the spot. Playing a team that spreads you, we picked our poison.”
Said LSU 6-2 freshman center Ayana Mitchell of McCowan: “There’s only so much you can do with her; she’s a great player.”
LSU’s strategy worked for a while. The Lady Tigers held a 17-10 lead at the first media timeout but Blair Schaefer sank back-to-back 3-point shots and LSU failed to score during the final 3:39 of the first half. A scoring drought to start the second half allowed the visitors to widen their lead to as much as 16 points and LSU never got closer got closer than 10 the rest of the way.
“She’s special,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said of McCowen’s 12th double-double. “To get 31 points and 20 rebounds on the road in the SEC is amazing. Amazing.”
Chloe Jackson led LSU with 25 points and Raigyne Louis had 20 despite being limited by foul trouble. Mitchell added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Tigers, who saw their eight-game winning streak snapped.
LSU kept pace in the first half because of Jackson’s shooting. She scored 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting, mostly short-range jump shots. Louis, LSU’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game, picked up two early fouls and sat out most of the second quarter. She picked up her third foul late in the half and opened the second half on the bench.
Mississippi State: The Lady Bulldogs continue to roll after finishing as national runners-up to South Carolina last season. They are off to a good start in league play, with road victories in three outings.
LSU: The Lady Tigers have to be pleased with the competitiveness against such a strong conference rival coming off a road victory at No. 11 Missouri two days earlier.
Mississippi State plays host to Ole Miss on Thursday.
LSU goes on the road again, visiting Alabama on Thursday.