STARKVILLE, Miss. — Marquette coach Carolyn Kieger thought she had a good scouting report on Mississippi State's Anriel Howard.
It said the 5-foot-11 forward wasn't great at making 3-pointers. She made the two she shot.
It said she usually drove to her right. She went left with ease.
When it was over, Howard had finished with 29 points, 12 rebounds and was the driving force behind No. 6 Mississippi State's 87-82 win over No. 18 Marquette on Thursday night.
Kieger was on the losing end of the barrage, but even she was impressed.
"Everything we were saying, she was countering," Kieger said. "That's the sign of an All-American. That's the sign of a great player."
Mississippi State (9-0) extended its regular-season nonconference winning streak to 45 games, but this was easily one of the toughest games during that stretch. The game was tight throughout the second half and the Bulldogs needed a late defensive stand to earn the win.
Teaira McCowan finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds. Howard shot 13 of 18 from the field, while McCowan shot 9 of 12. Jazzmun Holmes added 13 assists.
Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer was proud of his team for finding a way to win on "not our best night." But he was frustrated with his team's inability to stop the Golden Eagles on defense, especially in transition.
"We needed every point tonight, y'all," Schaefer said. "I'm sure there were a lot of people who thought that was a great game. But giving up 82 points, 21 fast-break points? Coach probably isn't going to sleep for a few days."
Danielle King finished with 27 points for Marquette (6-2), which shot 54 percent from the field. The Golden Eagles had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Chloe Bibby blocked a 3-point attempt by Natisha Hiedeman to seal the win. Hiedeman had 18 points.
Mississippi State closed the second quarter on a 12-0 run to take a 42-38 lead into halftime. Howard had 17 points and eight rebounds in the first half to almost single-handedly carry the Bulldogs. She shot 7 of 8 and five of her rebounds were on the offensive end.
The Bulldogs had problems with Marquette's speed, and the Golden Eagles capitalized with 10 fast-break points in the first half.
"I couldn't be more proud of the effort that we gave tonight and the toughness we showed," Kieger said. "We just talked in the locker room that this has to be a springboard for us. We can play with anybody in the country when we put our mind to it."
Howard and McCowan had the big numbers, but several role players, including Bibby, Bre'Amber Scott and Jordan Danberry, had big moments in the final minutes.
Bibby had the block in the final moments, Scott scored five points in the game's last five minutes, including a clutch 3-pointer, and Danberry hit a difficult baseline layup with 26 seconds left to give the Bulldogs an 83-80 lead.
"Obviously, you've got to have (other) kids make plays," Schaefer said. "They were building a campfire around (McCowan) down there."
Marquette: It was a terrific effort by the Golden Eagles, who gave Mississippi State problems all night in transition. In the end, Marquette simply couldn't stop Howard and McCowan enough to win.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs got their first real test of the season and barely survived. Howard and McCowan were great, but Mississippi State needs to work on its transition defense.
Marquette travels to face Northwestern on Sunday.
Mississippi State travels to face Southern Mississippi on Dec. 14