November 7, 2018 4:46:21 PM
STARKVILLE -- The intensity remains for Teaira McCowan.
A year ago, McCowan, motivated by a goal set by associate head coach Johnnie Harris, recorded a Southeastern Conference record 29 double-doubles as part of the Mississippi State women's basketball team's program-record 37-win season.
This season, part of the motivation for the 6-foot-7 senior center, who is the SEC's Preseason Player of the Year, could be ending her career with more rebounds than new teammate Anriel Howard. McCowan (1,015) and Howard, a graduate transfer from Texas A&M, (1,002) enter the 2018-19 campaign as the leading active rebounders in the SEC.
If Harris was looking for another way to motivate McCowan she might have found it Tuesday night. McCowan had 24 points, 17 rebounds, and a career-high seven blocked shots in No. 6 MSU's 88-53 victory against Southeast Missouri at Humphrey Coliseum.
McCowan's 40th career double-double came on the same day she and Howard were named to the 30-player preseason watch list for the Wooden Award, which goes to the nation's top player. The double-double was three blocked shots from MSU's first triple-double since Cynthia Hall accomplished the feat in 2000.
"I am pretty sure she will have something in there along that line," McCowan said when asked if Harris would set a goal for her to record a certain number of triple-doubles.
McCowan was 7-for-11 from the field and 10-for-15 from the free-throw line. Seven of her rebounds were on the offensive end. She did all of her work in 28 minutes, which was just off her average of 30.5 from last season.
"My free throws, I don't know what happened, but I am going to work on those tonight (Tuesday)," McCowan said.
McCowan spent most of the evening sandwiched between undersized defenders. She drew her fair share of contact going for passes and as she went up for shots. She also showed a willingness to carve out space and to post up aggressively to create passing lanes for her teammates.
The key moving forward will be to keep McCowan focused in every game so she can build continuity with her teammates to ensure everyone is at their best for the start of SEC play.
"I think we're still trying to figure out what our roles are," Schaefer said. "Even our starters, to an extent, are trying to figure out what their role is and how they're going to fulfill their role."
Redshirt sophomore guard Myah Taylor had seven points and six assists (two turnover) in 19 minutes in her debut as a Bulldog.
Freshman Jessika Carter (five points and four rebounds) was limited to eight minutes due to foul trouble. Classmate Xaria Wiggins had four points and three steals in 21 minutes, which was the most of any player off the bench.
All of Wiggins' steals came in a span of 3 minutes, 14 seconds that stretched from the first quarter to the second quarter.
Inside the numbers
MSU was 25-for-38 from the free-throw line (65.8 percent). Last season, the Bulldogs shot 74.6 percent from the free-throw line.
Luncheon series will begin next week
MSU's Hail State Hoops Luncheon Series will return at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 13.
Fans can enjoy lunch and basketball talk with Schaefer, his staff, and his players at the Mize Pavilion. Doors will open at 11:15 a.m. The cost is $15 per lunch, or $85 for the luncheon bundle.
The bundle includes admission to all seven luncheons and entry into the drawings to win a door prize. Limited spots are available for the luncheons, and RSVPs will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fans can RSVP for the luncheons by calling 662-325-0198 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The other luncheons will be: Thursday, Nov. 29; Wednesday, Dec. 12; Tuesday, Jan. 8; Friday, Jan. 25; Tuesday, Feb. 12; and Tuesday, Feb. 26
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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