AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Teaira McCowan and Jessika Carter could hardly miss, either around the basket or from the free throw line.
McCowan had 22 points and 10 rebounds in three quarters to power No. 7 Mississippi State’s 85-59 rout of Auburn on Monday night.
She and Carter missed only one shot between them.
“They’re both big targets down there,” Bulldogs point guard Jazzmun Holmes said. “If we can get it over the first line of defense and get in it to them, we have a pretty good chance of scoring.”
The chances were better than pretty good in this one.
The Bulldogs (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) led the whole way and shot 53 percent while holding the Tigers (14-3, 2-2) to a season-low in points.
Mississippi State dominated inside, outrebounding Auburn 43-24 and getting big games from both McCowan and Carter.
McCowan made 9 of 10 shots and all four free throw attempts while blocking three shots. She sat out the fourth quarter with the Bulldogs holding a big lead.
Carter was similarly efficient at center, making all four shots for 14 points. Neither center missed in a combined 10 free throw attempts, six for Carter and four for McCowan.
“We really felt like we needed to be able to play and kind of dominate that position, and I thought we did,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said.
Chloe Bibby made three 3-pointers and scored 11 while Jordan Danberry had 10 points.
Daisa Alexander led Auburn with 18 points. Brooke Moore scored 16, including four 3-pointers, and Crystal Primm finished with 14.
“Mississippi State’s a very good team,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “I thought we did a very good job; we were only down by 10 at the half.
“It’s just a tough game to continue to play that way. They got some transition baskets there that kind of blew the lead a little bit.”
Auburn got a glimmer of hope when McCowan picked up her third foul eight seconds into the second half. But she stayed in the game and out of further trouble and the Bulldogs’ 38-28 halftime lead kept growing.
The Tigers’ difficult matchup with McCowan and Carter got tougher with 6-foot-3 forward Unique Thompson limited by foul trouble. She scored two points, 11 below her average, in 22 minutes.
“She’s our only big post player,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It was tough at that point.”
Mississippi St.: Four inches taller than Auburn’s biggest players, McCowan matched the Tigers’ total of 12 points in the first quarter. She did her damage in 23 minutes.
Auburn: Was receiving Top 25 votes after two straight wins, but couldn’t mount any challenge in this one. Did make some defensive plays with 15 steals.
How does this Mississippi State team compare to last year’s?
“I actually think they were better last year,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Morgan William was a very good point guard that really controlled the game. They had 3-point shooters. Ten (Holmes) and 24 (Jordan Danberry) can’t shoot the 3 but they can hurt you in transition.”
Holmes had eight points and five assists.
Mississippi State handled Auburn’s defensive pressure much better after halftime. The Bulldogs committed 13 first-half turnovers and only seven after that.
Mississippi State hosts No. 15 South Carolina Thursday night.
Auburn visits Vanderbilt Thursday night.
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