STARKVILLE – Mississippi State put a cap to its non-conference women’s basketball schedule in grand style Monday night.
No. 17 MSU allowed a season-low in points as it knocked off Arkansas-Pine Bluff 83-26 in the final contest of 2014 at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs won their 15th straight to open the season and match the 1999-00 team as the only other squad in program history to go undefeated in non-conference play.
Mississippi State held its 10th opponent in the last 11 games below 60 points. After allowing a season-low 15.3 percent shooting Monday, MSU closed the non-conference holding its last 11 foes to 29.7 percent (172 of 580).
“Proud of the kids,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Proud to be 15-0. We have had some tough games and some games that were not as tough where you would want your kids to play better. In the first half tonight, we substituted. Our continuity was not good.
“We had 22 turnovers and that is not good. They had 15 offensive rebounds and that is not good. Those are trends. I have to coach better and we have to play better. We have a Top 20 team coming in here Friday. The grind starts now. The attention to detail of the little things will become the focus.”
MSU erased an early 4-3 deficit with a 17-0 run. The Bulldogs led 20-4 with 13:20 left in the half after a jumper by Kendra Grant. Grant scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half.
A 12-0 run helped MSU stretch the lead to 34-7 on a jumper by Victoria Vivians with 6:26 left in the half.
MSU allowed 12.9 percent shooting from the field in the opening half and led 40-9 at halftime. The nine points was the second-fewest a Bulldog team has allowed in a half, one behind the mark of eight set Dec. 14 at Southern Miss.
MSU held Pine Bluff to one field goal over the first four minutes of the second half. Back-to-back 3-point baskets by Breanna Richardson ran the lead to 60-15 with 12:35 left in the contest.
“Kendra was great off the bench tonight, 5 of 8 from the field, shooting the ball well,” Schaefer said. “I love the way Breanna played offensively tonight. We need that every night from her. We just need to be doing more things in the open court. Earlier in the year, we were playing at a frantic pace and making great decisions in the open court.
“We have to get back to that.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 29 of 62 shots from the field (46.8 percent), 5 of 12 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 20 of 24 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent). The Golden Lions’ 9 of 59 from the field also included 0 of 4 shots from 3-point range. UAPB went 8 of 14 shots from the foul line (57.1 percent).
MSU held a 50-36 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 18 assists and 22 turnovers, while the Golden Lions had three assists and 33 turnovers.
State recorded a season-high 11 blocks, with Martha Alwal adding a season-best five to move five back of seventh place in SEC history with 283 career swats.
Vivians led the Bulldogs with 16 points, her 10th game with 15 or more points, and fell one shy of a double-double as she had team-high nine rebounds. Richardson contributed 14 points and eight rebounds, while Grant added 12 points. Jerica James finished with six assists, one off her career high.
UAPB (2-9) received seven points apiece from Ajia Richardson and Destiny Ham. Mollie Campbell had a game-high 11 rebounds for the Golden Lions.
MSU opens the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule Friday by playing host to No. 19 Georgia. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. with the game available nationally on SEC Network + from the Humphrey Coliseum.
The contest marks just the fourth time in the last 16 seasons the Bulldogs have opened league play on the home court.
(From MSU Media Relations)