MSU Rolls Past Tennessee to Advance to Semifinals
GREENVILLE, S.C. (MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State tied the program record for its largest scoring output in the SEC Tournament with an 83-68 victory against Tennessee on Friday afternoon in Bon Secours Wellness Arena. With the win, senior Jazzmun Holmes, Teaira McCowan and Zion Campbell have collected 127 career victories, setting a new MSU record.
Anriel Howard led all scorers with 26 points, her 10th 20-plus point game of the year. Howard played a full 40 minutes while shooting 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from the field and reaching double-figures in both halves. Holmes collected 16 points and five steals, coming just one shy of matching her career highs in both categories.
McCowan posted her 64th career double-double and 25th of the year with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Bre’Amber Scott rounded out the Bulldogs in double figures with a dozen points.
The Bulldogs’ (28-2, 15-1 SEC) defense proved to be the difference as State forced 26 turnovers, including 15 in the first half. MSU scored 30 points off Lady Vol turnovers.
“I am really proud of our kids,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought tonight the second quarter was really special after getting off to a sluggish start in the first quarter. We were losing the horse game. If you play horse in this conference, you’re going to lose every night.”
MSU scored the first six points of the game and forced five turnovers in the first four minutes. Tennessee (19-12, 7-9 SEC) still built a six-point lead through the first period of play, up 23-17, thanks to its three-point shooting. The Lady Vols were 5-of-8 (62.5 percent) from three-point range and shot 53.3 percent (8-of-15) from the field overall.
The Bulldogs responded with one of their best quarters of the year, opening the second on a 10-2 run to regain a 27-25 lead with 6:02 left in the half. State would not trail again in the contest. The Bulldogs forced seven more turnovers in the first five minutes. MSU then ended the quarter on a 16-7 run to end the half with a 43-32 lead, capped by a Bre’Amber Scott three-pointer at the horn.
“We found a way there in the second quarter,” Schaefer said. “It was kind of the difference in the game. Jazz [Jazzmun Holmes] was as good today as I’ve ever seen her. She just was really special. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
Through one half, Holmes had totaled 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting with a pair of assists and three steals. Howard led all players with 15 points at the break.
The two teams traded baskets evenly through the third quarter, but MSU came out shooting to start the fourth. The Dawgs outscored the Lady Vols, 18-6 through the first seven and a half minutes of the quarter to build an 82-59 lead, their largest of the day. Tennessee ended the game on a 9-3 run over the final 2:36 to result in the final score.
State held a 48-24 edge in paint points. McCowan scored 10 of her points in the paint and eight off offensive rebounds.
The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Kentucky-Missouri quarterfinal in tomorrow’s semifinals at 4 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
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