MSU routs Tennessee for 10-0 start in SEC play

 

Anriel Howard, Teaira McCowan and Jordan Danberry celebrate a big play during the Bulldogs' win Sunday.

Anriel Howard, Teaira McCowan and Jordan Danberry celebrate a big play during the Bulldogs' win Sunday. Photo by: Kelly Donoho/MSU Athletic Media Relations

 

Adam Minichino

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Bre'Amber Scott was just trying to make a play. 

 

Little did the Mississippi State sophomore know her layup from what appeared to be from behind the backboard trigged a deluge of unprecedented proportions. 

 

Scott's basket provided the spark that she helped flame in the fourth quarter as the No. 6 MSU women's basketball team pulled away for a 91-63 victory against Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference game before a crowd of 10,021 at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

"I just feel like I can do multiple things," said Scott, who had 13 points and was one of five Bulldogs in double figures. "It opens up the floor for my teammates. I can either drive or shoot it, so with that it is they don't know whether to guard me or not." 

 

Scott made the most of her 15 minutes off the bench by going 5-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from the free-throw line. She also showed she was back to 100 percent after she missed the game against Alabama last Sunday and was cleared Monday after suffering from concussion symptoms.  

 

Scott showed no ill effects from the one-game absence, as she scored 11 points in the second half, including nine in a 30-14 fourth quarter that MSU used to break the game open. 

 

The spurt began innocently enough following a missed Jazzmun Holmes jump shot late in the third quarter. Scott gathered the inbounds pass on the left wing and then used a power dribble to create space down the right lane. It looked like Scott was going too quickly, but she managed to get the shot off at an improbable angle and see it skip off the backboard and in. After the officials waived off Zaay Green's 3-pointer, MSU led 61-49 entering the final 10 minutes. 

 

That was only the beginning of Scott's magic. 

 

On MSU's first possession of the fourth quarter, Scott drove from the left wing. In splitting two defenders, she appeared to slip or to make contact with one of the Lady Vols. As she fell to the floor, Scott threw the ball toward the basket and saw it creep over the rim. 

 

Scott, who took two charges to equal her season total entering the game, said she is willing to do whatever she can to help the team. She isn't quite sure if she will have to duplicate her knack for making difficult shots, but she is up for the challenge if it means the Bulldogs will keep winning. 

 

"I just try to focus on getting the ball up and if it goes in it just goes in," Scott said laughing. "I am not sure what happened with those. It was probably luck." 

 

Scott said she and sophomore guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who started and had 11 points on 4-for-13 shooting, have similar skills they hope to use to help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to sophomore Chloe Bibby. In addition to giving the Bulldogs 3-point shooters without Bibby, Scott said she and Espinoza-Hunter can put the ball on the floor if defenses don't respect them and make the pay. 

 

Scott capped one of her best quarters by nailing a 3-pointer with 8 minutes, 15 seconds remaining to kick MSU's lead to 70-51. The trey, which came off an assist from Jordan Danberry (20 points, four assists), triggered an explosion inside the Hump and forced Tennessee coach Holly Warlick to call a 30-second timeout. 

 

The stoppage didn't affect Scott or the Bulldogs. 

 

"We lost her shooting the three," Warlick said. "I think she is explosive. All of their guards, they bring a difficulty because they are super quick penetrators and also difficult when you can really shoot the three. That's what she did today." 

 

Scott added two free throws and another drive in the quarter. The final basket helped account for 20 points in the paint in the last 10 minutes that pushed the Bulldogs' advantage in the category to 50-30. 

 

"Bre'Amber comes off the bench and just plays her heart out," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "She gives us another good defender. She had two great charges. She's just a great help as defender and can also guard on the ball." 

 

Teaira McCowan paced MSU (22-1, 10-0 SEC) with 24 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocked shots. Anriel Howard also had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help MSU earn its 26th-straight SEC regular-season victory and its 32nd-straight victory at the Hump in handing Tennessee (15-8, 4-6) its worst loss in a conference game. The previous mark was a 78-51 loss to Georgia on Jan. 17, 2000. 

 

The 28-point margin of defeat was Tennessee's second worst in program history. It matched a 72-44 loss to Notre Dame on Jan. 23, 2012. It was three points shy of Tennessee's all-time worst loss, a 91-60 setback to Texas on Dec. 11, 1984. 

 

All of those elements were exclamation points for Scott, who practiced all week in the Bulldogs' bye week and feels she is back to 100 percent. 

 

"I felt pretty good," Scott said. "I wasn't shooting the ball as well, but that was OK because my team and coaches kept me confident. I just went off the energy that my teammates had. It wasn't one person or one thing. It was the energy. We had good energy, so I just went off that and did the most I could to help my team." 

 

Follow Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor 

 

 

Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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