Vivians leads MSU past Miami (Ohio) in Las Vegas

Victoria Vivians

Victoria Vivians

LAS VEGAS, Nev., – Victoria Vivians led the way with 20 points as No. 20/21 Mississippi State completed its women’s basketball road swing with a perfect ledger Sunday night.

Vivians sparked the offense and the defense was again dominant as MSU knocked off Miami (Ohio) 68-42 in its final game of the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic at South Point Arena.

The Carthage, Miss., native was tabbed to the all-tournament team after averaging 16.0 points in the two contests.

Her hot hand helped MSU extend the best win streak in school history to 14 games while moving to 14-0 on the season. The Bulldogs enter their portion of the Christmas break as one of seven unbeatens nationwide. South Carolina and Georgia are also undefeated in the Southeastern Conference.

The two victories in Las Vegas capped a run of six games in 11 days for the youthful Bulldogs.

“These kids have done a lot, played awfully hard, played a lot of games in a short amount of time,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We have been through two demanding months, so it will be nice for them to get away for five games and refresh.”

The Bulldogs struggled early offensively but the hot shooting of Vivians helped the team to an early lead. MSU stretched an early two-point lead to a 21-12 advantage with a 13-6 run. Martha Alwal made a layup to cap that run.

A 3-pointer by Vivians pushed the lead to double digits at 24-14. It was the first of back-to-back treys for Vivians and the first of eight straight points for the freshman. A Morgan William putback closed the scoring in the first half as MSU led 31-18 at the break.

In the opening half, the Bulldogs shot 35.9 percent from the floor but built the early lead thanks in part to 13 first-half turnovers on the defensive end.

“I am excited about how hard we are playing defensively,” Schaefer said. “I am concerned about how good we are. There are nights when I think we are really good. There are other nights when I am concerned about how good we are.

“We are excited about the future. There is a long way to go with a lot of work to do. We have to get ready in a hurry when we get back for league play.”

The Bulldogs opened the second half with a 12-2 run to stretch the lead to 43-20 with 14:04 left in the contest. Vivians also had eight points during that run, while Chinwe Okorie and Jerica James had the other baskets.

MSU stretched the lead to 54-27 with 7:41 left after a layup by Sherise Williams.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 30 of 70 shots from the field (42.9 percent), 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range (15.4 percent) and 6 of 9 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The RedHawks hit 16 of 53 shots from the field (30.2 percent), 0 of 10 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent).

Miami held a 47-35 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 12 assists and seven turnovers, while the RedHawks had 11 assists and 24 turnovers.

After allowing 36 points in its tournament opener against Illinois-Chicago, the Bulldogs were again solid on the defensive end, by allowing 42 points. In its last five games, MSU is allowing 43.2 points per game.

Vivians’ 20 points came on a 9 of 17 night from the field. It is her fifth game of 20 or more points this season. Breanna Richardson added 12 points. Okorie had a team-high eight rebounds. Vivians also had an assist, block and three steals.

“Victoria played well tonight,” Schaefer said. “She is getting more comfortable. She bailed us out of a couple of shot clock situations. I am excited for her. When these freshmen come back, they won’t be freshmen anymore.”

With her three blocks in the contest, Alwal passed Tennessee’s Candace Parker for eighth in SEC career history with 278.

Miami (2-7) received nine points from Baleigh Reid and eight points from Hannah McCue.

The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. Dec. 29 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. That contest in Humphrey Coliseum will be available on SEC Network Plus.

(From MSU Media Relations)

I have covered Mississippi State in some capacity since 2004 and joined the Daily Journal staff in 2013. I enjoy short walks on the beach, performing concerts in my car and watching professional wrestling.

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