STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State’s quest to defend its 2018 SEC regular-season championship officially begins Thursday as the Bulldog women’s basketball team opens practice for the 2018-19 campaign.
Reigning SEC and Naismith National Coach of the Year Vic Schaefer welcomes eight letterwinners back from last year’s Bulldog squad that won a school-record 37 games, captured the first league title in program history and advanced to the NCAA National Championship game for the second-straight year.
Senior Teaira McCowan leads Mississippi State into the season following a stellar junior campaign that saw her average 18.2 ppg and 13.9 rpg en route to capturing multiple All-America accolades as well as the inaugural Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year.
Last season, McCowan grabbed an SEC-record 544 rebounds, the second-most in NCAA history. The Brenham, Texas, native also set a new conference standard with 29 double-doubles.
McCowan, who enters the season second at MSU with 1,015-career rebounds, is one of four seniors that will suit up for State this season, with Jazzmun Holmes, Jordan Danberry and graduate transfer Anriel Howard joining her.
Holmes saw action at the point in all 39 games a year ago, dishing 105 assists while averaging 4.2 ppg. Danberry showed stellar defense a year ago, tallying 22 steals in 31 games. The Elite 90 winner for the top GPA at the Final Four, Danberry capped her first season wearing the Maroon and White by averaging 6.0 ppg against Louisville and Notre Dame in Columbus, Ohio.
Howard and McCowan combine to give MSU the top two active career rebounders in the SEC. Howard joins the Bulldogs after tallying 1,002-career boards and 32 double-doubles in three seasons at Texas A&M.
While Thursday marks the first official practice of the new season, the Bulldogs had the opportunity to see game action as a unit during an August tour of Italy.
State went 3-0 during the 10-day Italian journey, with McCowan’s 19.0 ppg and 10.7 rpg leading the way. Chloe Bibby added 12.7 ppg.
Mississippi State hosts defending NCAA Division II national champion Central Missouri in a Nov. 2 exhibition before officially opening the campaign at home on Nov. 6 against Southeast Missouri.
Reserved lower level season tickets are sold out, but general admission upper level season tickets can still be purchased online at www.hailstate.com/tickets or by calling 1-888-GO-DAWGS.