Mississippi State rebounded from its only conference loss of the season with a win over a ranked opponent on the road. The No. 5 Bulldogs (23-2, 11-1 SEC) beat No. 22 Texas A&M (19-5, 8-4 SEC) by a final of 92-64 in College Station.
Here are three takeaways from head coach Vic Schaefer’s sixth-straight win over his mentor Gary Blair.
Trying to contain Chennedy Carter
In Thursday’s loss to Missouri, senior guard Sophie Cunningham torched Mississippi State for 23 points. Texas A&M sophomore who came into the game averaging 22.2 points per game threatened to reach that total in the first half.
Carter scored 16 points in the first quarter to give the Aggies a 24-20 lead after the first quarter. In the end, though, she might’ve been too ball-centric for the Aggies to have a fluid offense. She poured in a game-high 28 points, but she needed 22 shot attempts to get there.
The Aggie to attempt the second-most shots, sophomore guard Kayla Wells, took six shots. All things considered, Mississippi State played a decent game defensively. The Bulldogs held the Aggies to 41.2 percent shooting from the field as a team and out-rebounded them 47-32.
On the Carter front, it’s hard to totally corral a scorer who is attempting a shot just about every other time down the floor. Schaefer won’t like that Carter got loose for so many points, but her totals didn’t prove to be a killer like Cunningham’s did.
Andra Espinoza-Hunter catches fire
The sophomore transfer now has a new career-high in 3-pointers: seven. Ever since sophomore Chloe Bibby was lost for the season with her knee injury a month ago, Espinoza-Hunter has gained more confidence with each game.
Sunday afternoon was a culmination of her progress. Her 24 points also set a new career-best mark.
Without Bibby, Espinoza-Hunter is Mississippi State’s purest 3-point shooter. The Bulldogs haven’t needed her to be a sharpshooter in most games, but if she proves she can make more than a couple threes on a nightly basis then MSU could transform into the team to beat come tournament time.
Mississippi State only made two 3-pointers in addition to Ezpinoza-Hunter’s seven. Espinoza-Hunter is clearly Mississippi State’s main contributor from beyond the arc, and she’s getting more confident in her shot as the season goes on.
Unusual output for Holmes, McCowan
Senior point guard Jazzmun Holmes and senior center Teaira McCowan got themselves into foul trouble. McCowan didn’t make her first shot from the field until the fourth quarter as a result. Holmes only made one shot all day.
McCowan and Holmes combined to shoot 3-of-9 from the field for 16 points. That doesn’t add up to their usual production, but it didn’t matter. Holmes still had six assists and zero turnovers in her 19 minutes of action, and McCowan managed to get to the free throw line for eight shots. She made nine of them. McCowan also had 10 rebounds to quietly claim the 60th double-double of her storied career.
McCowan and Holmes’ fellow starters – Espinoza-Hunter, senior guard Jordan Danberry and senior forward Anriel Howard – combined for 59 points to set the pace. Freshman guard Myah Taylor played a decent amount of minutes to relieve Holmes while she was on the bench because of fouls.