After finishing the 2017-2018 season 34-5 and making yet another final four appearance, the MSU women’s basketball team took to the court Oct. 24 to display their talent in their annual Maroon-White Scrimmage game.
Although the Bulldogs graduated four of their powerhouse players last season, the talent and high expectations are two things remaining in this program. Head coach Vic Schaefer said they will try to compete for an SEC and NCAA championship.
"My expectations are always competing for championships," said Schaefer. "We’re going to try and compete for another SEC Championship, and when it gets to be March, we want to be playing our very best to compete for a National Championship. Our expectations here don’t change from year to year."
Newcomer Andra Espinoza-Hunter, a sophomore from Ossining, New York, and transfer from the University of Connecticut, gave less reasons to worry about the future of MSU women’s basketball after her performance Tuesday night. Espinoza-Hunter, who led the Bulldogs in scoring, made 10 out of 17 shots to finish the night with 29 points.
Xaria Wiggins, a freshman from Virginia Beach, Virginia, also ensured a safe future for the Bulldogs after finishing with 17 points and 3 rebounds. Schaefer said he was pleased with what he saw from his young players.
"I was really pleased to see our young kids," said Schaefer. "Jessika (Carter), Xaria, and Andra really has some stretches where they did some nice things."
As for returning talent, Preseason SEC Player of the year, Teaira McCowan, a senior from Brenham, Texas, competed in regular fashion, finishing the night with a double-double scoring 19 points and 18 rebounds. Not too far behind was Jazzmun Holmes, a senior from Gulfport, who scored 13 points and 10 assists that would be the building blocks for McCowan.
"It was a positive experience," Schaefer said. "I had some combinations on the floor that I haven’t had on the floor yet this year. It was good to see some of those combinations play together."
As for Anriel Howard, a graduate student from Atlanta, Georgia, who transferred from Texas A&M, Schaefer said he was also impressed with how hard the veteran player goes on the court, and how she is handling the transfer to MSU.
"Anriel is still trying to get comfortable, but she always plays hard and rebounds hard," Schaefer said. "She’s only been with us for a short time, so she’s trying to find her way and she will. I’m very happy with how hard she plays, and I love the smile on her face and how eager she is to go out and compete."
Gearing up for another hopeful season, the expectations are high for Schaefer’s squad, but so is the team's talent from both newcomers and returning players. Catch the Bulldogs in action at Maroon Madness at 7:20 p.m. this Friday at The Hump. The Harlem Globetrotters will be there as well as MSU's men's team.
MSU will also host NCAA Division II National Champion Central Missouri in a exhibition at 6 p.m. on Nov. 2. The Lady Bulldogs officially open the 2018-19 campaign in The Hump on Nov. 6 against Southeast Missouri State.