LAS VEGAS, Nev. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State topped the 100-point mark for the second time this season in a 103-63 win against UNLV in opening-round play of the Duel in the Desert at Cox Pavilion.
Reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Week Teaira McCowan had 31 points and 15 rebounds for their eighth double-double of the season. McCowan fell one rebound shy of a first-half double-double. Victoria Vivians added 22 points, while Roshunda Johnson had 12 points.
“We got going in transition there,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We got some turnovers and hit some 3s. It gave us some momentum. (Vivians) was really on fire early. We were 9 for 17 at the half from 3-point range. Overall, for us, very proud of how we played.”
In the game prior to MSU’s, the Texas A&M Aggies set a Cox Pavilion record with 103 points scored against Hawaii. Hours later, State tied that record.
The Bulldogs erased a 13-10 deficit with 15 straight points. A 3-pointer by Johnson and a pair of Blair Schaefer free throws pushed the lead to 25-13. The quarter would end with a 23-2 run for a 36-15 lead.
A strong offensive start continued in the second quarter. After UNLV closed within 19, MSU ended the half on a 12-4 run for a 61-34 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored 30 points, giving them a pair of 30+-point quarters in the contest. A 9-0 run helped the Bulldogs push the advantage to 72-36 with 5:14 left third quarter.
“We gave up some easy stuff at the end,” Schaefer said. “We really wore them down. We got some good minutes from the bench. It was just a relentless effort and we stayed consistent throughout the game.”
Schaefer had seven assists, while Johnson had five steals.
For the contest, MSU hit 36 of 77 shots from the field (46.8 percent), 10 of 24 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 21 of 23 shots from the foul line (91.3 percent). UNLV hit 22 of 55 shots from the field (40.0 percent), 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 13 of 16 shots from the foul line (81.3 percent).
MSU held a 42-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 21 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Runnin’ Rebels had 13 assists and 28 turnovers.
UNLV (5-5) received 21 points from Brooke Johnson, 12 points from Paris Strawther and 11 points from Katie Powell. Alyssa Anderson had a team-high six rebounds.
MSU will face No. 22 Syracuse in the final round of the tournament at 4:30 p.m. CT Thursday. The contest pits the last two national finalists, with Syracuse finishing second nationally in 2016 and MSU doing the same in 2017.
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