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San Juan, Puerto Rico — Western Michigan gave No. 9 Mississippi State all it could handle in the first half during the Puerto Rico Classic, heading into halftime facing a two-point deficit.

But the Broncos couldn’t keep pace and faded away in the second half as Teaira McCowan scored a career-high 24 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs past Western Michigan 90-68 on Sunday.

McCowan, a 6-foot-7 freshman, was dominant in the post, grabbing 10 offensive rebounds and shooting 9-of-16 from the field. Victoria Vivians added 15 points for the Bulldogs (10-1) while Ketara Chapel had 11.

Meredith Shipman led Western Michigan (7-3) with 17 points, six rebounds and two assists. Teagan Reeves added 11 points and three rebounds.

The Bulldogs led just 40-38 at halftime, but put the game away with a 27-11 advantage in the third quarter.

After Western Michigan cut it to 49-46 with 5:18 left in the third, Mississippi State closed out the quarter on an 18-3 run to take a commanding 67-49 advantage into the fourth.

“We came out in the second half and played much, much better,” said Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer, whose team has won five straight. “We probably played our worst half of the year (in the first half) and we were still up two.”

Chinwe Okorie had seven points and five rebounds in the pivotal third and McCowan established a consistent presence in the paint.

The Broncos made 29-of-36 (81 percent) free throws to keep the game close, but were outscored 25-2 on second-chance points.

“I think this game said a lot,” Western Michigan coach Shane Clipfell said. “Obviously our team is disappointed the way this one ended and the final score doesn’t really tell the story. I think we can see that there is a look in our eyes that we believe and the more we get comfortable, we’ll have a really good team.”

Big Ten men

Monmouth 73, (at) Rutgers 67: Justin Robinson scored 14 and Monmouth held off a Rutgers rally to win for the first time after dropping the first nine meetings.

Deon Jones had 12 points and nine rebounds for Monmouth (8-3). Collin Stewart had 11 points, while Chris Brady added nine points and 10 rebounds.

Corey Sanders had 16 points and four assists for Rutgers (4-7), who have lost six of seven. Mike Williams had 15 points and Bishop Daniels added 12, while DJ Foreman had 11 rebounds and Greg Lewis 10.

Monmouth opened three different 13-point advantages, the last at 61-48. Rutgers used a 17-4 run to tie it at 65-65 and missed taking the lead when Williams missed the second of two foul shots with 2:17 left.

After Jones and Daniels traded baskets, Brady’s putback gave Monmouth the lead for good at 69-67 with 1:02 remaining.

Samford 69, (at) Nebraska 58: Wyatt Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half, jump-starting an 18-4 run to open the second half for Samford.

Samford trailed 30-26 at halftime but made four layups in the first seven minutes of the second half, including Walker’s 3-point play, to give Samford a 44-34 lead.

The Bulldogs led by as many as 13 points and were up 55-43 when Nebraska went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to five on Tai Webster’s 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining. But the Huskers could get no closer.

Christen Cunningham led Samford (8-4) with 20 points and Darius Jones-Gibson added 15.

Shavon Shields had 22 points and Andrew White III 17 for Nebraska (7-5).

Top 25 men

(At) No. 25 Connecticut 88, UMass-Lowell 79: Rodney Purvis scored 28 for Connecticut, who was playing without injured 7-foot center Amida Brimah and relied on their guards in the victory.

Daniel Hamilton had 12 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Sterling Gibbs scored 15 points and Omar Calhoun had 14.

The Huskies (7-3) made 64 percent of their shots from the floor, while Lowell shot 50 percent.

Jahad Thomas led UMass-Lowell (4-7) with 19 points and Josh Gantz had 18. Matt Harris and Isaac White each scored 11.

The Huskies led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but a 3-pointer by D.J. Mlachnik closed the gap to 81-75 with under 2 minutes left. UConn hit seven of its eight foul shots down the stretch to hold on.

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