Participants in the national championship game the last two seasons, the Mississippi State Bulldogs continue to roll along, clinching the 2018-19 Southeastern Conference regular season championship for a school record second consecutive season on Sunday at South Carolina.
In the 68-64 win at No. 14 South Carolina, Mississippi State, 27-2 overall and 15-1 in SEC play, overcame a seven-point halftime deficit and their first time trailing at the break this season, outscoring the Gamecocks (21-8, 13-3 SEC), 36-25, in the second half. State survived a late challenge from South Carolina, who outscored the Bulldogs, 9-4 in the final 3:30 of play.
With the win, seniors Jazzmun Holmes and Teaira McCowan have tied last year's class for the program wins record with their 126th career victory. McCowan collected her 63rd career double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. Anriel Howard recorded her 42nd with a season-high 16 boards and 13 points. Andra Espinoza-Hunter (17) and Jordan Danberry (12) joined them in double figures.
The Bulldogs started the week with a 76-56 home win against LSU on Feb. 28 that clinched a share of the SEC regular season championship. Bulldog seniors, playing in their final regular season game at home in Humphrey Coliseum, led the way with four scoring in double figures in front of 8,631 fans in Starkville. McCowan scored 25 points and collected 13 rebounds, Danberry scored 18, and Howard and Holmes each added 10.
Ranked fifth in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll released on Monday, Mississippi State is 6-2 against top-30 teams in the RPI this season. The Bulldogs are tied with UConn for the most wins in the country (97) since the start of the 2015-16 season. The two programs last met in the 2017 Women’s Final Four when Mississippi State snapped the Huskies 111-game win streak with a 66-64 victory in overtime.
Mississippi State holds the No. 1 seed in this week's SEC Tournament and will have a double-bye. The Bulldogs begin play on Friday, March 8 against the winner of the No. 8 Tennessee/No. 9 LSU game.