No. 1 seed Mississippi State rolls past No. 16 Nicholls State in front of sold out crowd to advance to NCAA second round

STARKVILLE, Miss. – There was no historic upset bid for No. 16 seed Nicholls State Colonels versus No. 1 seed Mississippi State Saturday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. MSU stayed in charge in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,211 to claim a 95-50 win. The Bulldogs will play Oklahoma State on Monday as the Cowgirls defeated Syracuse in the day’s first game.

“I want to congratulate Nicholls,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I have respect for her [Nicholls State head coach DoBee Plaisance], her players and program. We got a lot of rust to knock off and I know everybody sees that. That’s my job to get everyone back. We did some good things today but we’ve got to ready for a really good Oklahoma State team.”

Nicholls State brought a gritty performance to Starkville limiting MSU’s offense. Uncharacteristically, MSU began the game with two straight turnovers and missed shots. Double teams on center Teaira McCowan and guard Victoria Vivians made much of their shooting efforts futile. The Bulldogs left the first quarter with limited momentum but earned a 21-13 lead.

Mississippi State set their focus on taking Southland Conference Player of the Year Cassidy Barrios out of her element. Averaging 18 points per game, limiting her possessions was vital to MSU’s success. She finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Nicholls coach Plaisance said the experience was huge opportunity to feel the big moments in The Hump.

“Their chemistry was good to see,” Plaisance said about the Bulldogs. “They were a little bigger than we anticipated. They were a class act, shot the ball well, and I was impressed all around. No surprised at all. They have a lot of chemistry going on.”

After a chippy first quarter, MSU went back to regular programming with a bullheaded offense to outscore the Colonels 33-11 in the second quarter. Nicholls’ defense was up to par, but shooting just 21 percent in the first quarter and 27 in the second enable MSU to have a 54-24 halftime lead.

Restricting Vivians and McCowan could only last so long, as both claimed double-doubles in the win. Vivians had a team-high of 20 points and tied for team-high 13 rebounds. McCowan tied with guard Blair Schaefer for 18 points and 13 rebounds.

With a 30-point lead halfway through the third quarter, Schaefer called in his reserves to finish the game. Though a great start to the tournament, MSU will need to clean up their play, instead of collecting 16 turnovers, to overcome Oklahoma State.

“They’re big, strong and physical,” Schaefer said about Oklahoma State. “They’re a veteran ball club and well coached. Should be a heck of a game.”

Game Notes:

  • This is Mississippi State’s first-ever number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Fans sold out the Humphrey Coliseum for first and second rounds of the tournament for the first time in tournament history.
  • This was Nicholls State’s first-ever tournament bid.
  • Mississippi State outscored Nicholls State in the paint 42-24.
  • Mississippi State outrebounded Nicholls State 51-29.
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