STARKVILLE – Freshman Victoria Vivians scored a game-high 20 points as Mississippi State opened its women’s basketball season with a 114-58 victory over Arkansas-Fort Smith in an exhibition contest played at the Humphrey Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs shot 51.3 percent from the field, including a 9-of-29 night from 3-point range. MSU held a plus-eight rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs also had 23 assists.
“It was a good start,” MSU third-year head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought our energy was really good. I thought the crowd was good and into it. Our freshmen played well tonight. A lot of kids got a chance to play tonight and played well.”
In her unofficial MSU debut, Vivians hit 7-of-14 shots from the field and scored twice on layup attempts after stealing the inbounds pass. Fellow rookie Blair Schaefer added 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from 3-point range in her first game in the Maroon and White.
“Our press really created an atmosphere,” Vic Schaefer said. “Even though we gave up some easy baskets, we did a lot of things well out of it. I thought the defensive pressure really set the tone.”
The Bulldogs built an early 15-8 lead. MSU then stretched the lead to 30-13 with eight straight points. That run included six points from Vivians and a layup from junior Sherise Williams.
Williams finished with 19 points on an 8-of-9 night from the field. Morgan William was also in double figures with 11 points.
“We are working on meshing together,” Blair Schaefer said. “We know everybody does one thing well. We are focusing on patience and that is why we are having so many assists.”
MSU shot 51.1 percent from the field in the first half and led 58-35 at halftime. In the second half, the defensive effort was improved as the Bulldogs held the Lions to 23 second-half points.
“We have more options and our skill set is better,” Schaefer said. “I have a team full of givers. We don’t have any I people in the locker room. That is why we had 23 assists on 39 baskets.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 39 of 76 shots from the field (51.3 percent), 9 of 29 shots from 3-point range (31.0 percent) and 27 of 36 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). The Lions hit 17 of 53 shots from the field (32.1 percent), 2 of 12 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 22 of 29 shots from the foul line (75.9 percent).
MSU held a 44-36 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 23 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Lions had eight assists and 33 turnovers.
Division II member Arkansas-Fort Smith received 18 points from Jasmine Brainard, 12 points from Maya Perry and a double-double from Angi Ramey (10 points, 11 rebounds).
MSU will open the season by playing host to Mercer at 8 p.m. Friday in a first-round game of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
(From MSU Media Relations)