Following a grueling four-game run to the WNIT championship, No. 25 Mississippi State returned to the court and won its first game this season as a ranked team.
Sherise Williams scored 15 points and was one of three Bulldogs in double figures as MSU knocked off Louisiana-Monroe 80-46 Tuesday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU shot 37.1 percent from the floor but enjoyed a plus-13 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had a season-high 21 assists and matched a season low with 13 turnovers.
“It was about what I expected,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We didn’t press in the second half and that mentally effected what we were doing. We are 5-0 and I am pleased that we got (Kendra Grant) back tonight. She made a couple of jump shots and looked like the old Kendra.
“I was concerned about a letdown, but we didn’t have it. We came out and played well in the first half.”
After ULM scored the game’s opening basket, MSU responded with the game’s next 14 points. Victoria Vivians and Jerica James began the scoring with back-to-back 3-point baskets. Ketara Chapel and Williams added four points apiece in the run.
The Bulldogs continued the defensive dominance with a 17-0 run that covered close to seven minutes. A layup by Breanna Richardson stretched the lead to 31-6 with 5:54 left in the half.
MSU shots 38.1 percent in the opening half and held ULM to two field goals, a tally that bettered the previous low of three set against Nicholls State in 2008-09. The Bulldogs led 48-13 at the intermission.
ULM (1-2) battled in the second half and actually outscored MSU 33-32. The Bulldogs did stretch the lead to as many as 44 at 75-31 with 7:16 left after back-to-back 3-point baskets from Blair Schaefer and Kayla Nevitt.
ULM scored the last six points of the game to create the final margin.
“In the second half, we were hit by bunch of screens,” Schaefer said. “We didn’t jump up and down. We are trying to teach going out and dominating another half. The goal is to play hard every possession and to win every possession.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 70 shots from the field (37.1 percent), 8 of 26 shots from 3-point range (30.8 percent) and 20 of 25 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). The Warhawks hit 13 of 38 shots from the field (34.2 percent), 3 of 7 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 17 of 24 shots from the foul line (70.8 percent).
MSU held a 44-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 21 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Warhawks had 10 assists and 32 turnovers.
Schaefer added a season-high 11 points, nine from 3-point range, while Chapel registered her third-straight game in double figures with 10. James added six assists and five steals. Chapel, Schaefer and Chinwe Okorie each had six rebounds for the Bulldogs.
MSU takes its young squad on the road for the first time Saturday as it ventures to New Orleans for a 2 p.m. start against the Privateers.
(From MSU Media Relations)