“I thought our team came out in the second half and played much, much better. We probably played our worst half of the year and were up two,” MSU’s Vic Schaefer said. “The second half three things happened: Chinwe (Okorie) established our inside game, (Teaira) came off the bench and really established our inside game and Victoria took over the game in a brief stretch where she made some great shots.
“Defensively, we were much better in the second half. We got out of the press and tried to defend them in the half court, and we held them to 36 percent from the floor.”
MSU (10-1) won its fifth straight while moving to 2-0 in the event. The Bulldogs wrap up their pre-Christmas slate by playing SMU at 12:15 p.m. Monday in their final game of the tournament.
Freshman Teaira McCowan was the offensive star for the Bulldogs. While recording her fourth double-double, McCowan set new season highs with 24 points and 13 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end.
“When coach gives you an opportunity, you have to take advantage of it and produce and do as much as you can,” McCowan said. “Second-chance points keeps teams in games, so I tried to get as many offensive rebounds and stick-backs I could.”
Victoria Vivians recorded her 10th-straight game in double figures with 15 points, while Ketara Chapel added her third-straight double-figure game with 11. The Bulldogs dished out 19 assists, with Morgan William being credited with five and both Dominique Dillingham and Jazzmun Holmes each giving out four.
Both team shots well in a fast-paced first half.
The Bulldogs built an early 14-11 lead on a 3-pointer by Dillingham. An old-fashioned 3-point play by McCowan capped a 9-0 run and placed the Maroon and White on top, 17-11.
“Yesterday against Florida Gulf Coast was a tough matchup for her. If we can get her to play hard every possession and establish her presence inside it’s hard to get around her,” Schaefer said of McCowan’s performance. “She’s really coming along and working very hard. I’m proud of her having a double-double today. It was her paint. She established herself in the lane and was hard to handle. The best is yet to come for her, and she’ll have a chance to shine in the coming weeks, months and years.”
The Bulldogs held a 25-23 lead after one quarter.
However, the Broncos came right back for a 31-29 advantage midway through the period. The Broncos stretched the lead to seven at 36-29 before a half-ending 11-2 run gave the Bulldogs a 40-38 lead at the break.
In the second half, MSU never trailed thanks to holding WMU to 8 of 22 shooting the final two quarters.
The great defensive effort sparked an 11-0 run. A basket by Vivians capped the run and placed the Bulldogs on top, 60-46. The quarter ended with an 18-3 run for a 67-49 lead.
William rammed home a 3-pointer, one of her nine points, in the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs were able to coast to the finish line from there.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 34 of 78 shots from the field (43.6 percent), 6 of 16 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 16 of 21 shots from the foul line (76.2 percent). The Broncos hit 18 of 42 shots from the field (42.9 percent), 3 of 11 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 29 of 36 shots from the foul line (80.6 percent).
MSU held a 44-29 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 11 turnovers, while the Broncos had 12 assists and 17 turnovers.
Western Michigan received 17 points from Meredith Shipman and 11 points from Jessica Jessing. Shipman also had a team-high six rebounds.