Mississippi State shook off a slow start to roll past Florida 75-62 in a Southeastern Conference women’s basketball game played Sunday at the Humphrey Coliseum.
No. 13 MSU trailed by eight points in the early stages of the first half. The Bulldogs took control late in the first half and led 40-30 at the intermission. The lead grew to as many as 21 in the second half.
With the win, MSU improved to 24-4 overall and 9-4 in conference play. MSU matched the school record for wins in a season with 24 and home wins with a 16-1 record at Humphrey Coliseum.
The nine league victories are the most since 2009-10 and tied for the second-most in school history.
The victory put the Bulldogs in sole possession of third place in the conference standings with three league games to go.
A season-high crowd of 5,183 was in attendance for the team’s annual Think Pink breast cancer awareness game. The crowd was the fourth largest in program history.
Florida slipped to 12-13 and 4-8 with the defeat. The Bulldogs snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Gators, winning for the first time since 2008.
“The kids were a little dead when the game started,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I am really proud of everything we have accomplished. We have set a lot of milestones here that people didn’t think were possible when we got here three years ago. We have some high expectations around here.
“With three league games left and the conference tournament, there is still a lot for this team to accomplish.”
Florida scored the game’s first eight points. The Bulldogs went close to four minutes before a layup by Breanna Richardson got the Maroon and White on the board. Still lethargic early, Florida built another eight-point lead at 17-9 with 11:42 left in the first half.
An offensive rebound by Savannah Carter and putback by Chinwe Okorie got the Bulldogs going. Okorie completed the 3-point play to start a 9-0 run. A jumper by Dominique Dillingham and layup by Martha Alwal capped the run and placed the Bulldogs on top 18-17.
Florida held one more brief lead before MSU stormed ahead for good. Dillingham hit a 3-pointer for a 22-19 lead. After one more tie, MSU used an 8-0 run for a 30-22 lead.
In the opening half the Bulldogs hit 6 of 12 3-point attempts and led by 10 points at the break.
MSU scored the first four points of the second half and were never in any danger after that. A 3-pointer by Victoria Vivians helped MSU to a 47-34 advantage. The lead grew to 21 at 69-48 thanks in part to eight points by Kendra Grant.
For the contest, MSU hit 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9 percent), 9 of 19 shots from 3-point range (47.4 percent) and 16 of 22 shots from the foul line (72.7 percent). Florida hit 23 of 55 shots from the field (41.8 percent), 3 of 9 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 13 of 15 shots from the foul line (86.7 percent).
MSU held a 37-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 19 turnovers, while the Gators had 16 assists and 20 turnovers.
“We had a chance to blow it out but let them back in because of poor decision making,” Schaefer said. “We are past the point of being satisfied with winning. It is a matter of how are you going about winning. The process is just as important as the end result.”
Richardson led MSU with 16 points, while Alwal added 14 points and Vivians 10 points. Alwal posted her 34th career double-double by also pulling down a game-high 13 rebounds. She also had two of the team’s seven blocks. Dillingham added two blocks and two steals. Jerica James had four assists and two steals.
January Miller led Florida with 16 points. Ronni Williams and Brooke Copeland added 11 points each for the Gators.
MSU returns to action Sunday with a road trip to Alabama. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide meet at 2 p.m. from Foster Auditorium. The game will be available online and on the WatchESPN app on the SEC Network +.
(From MSU Media Relations)