STARKVILLE, Miss. – Wooden Award candidate Victoria Vivians, Chinwe Okorie and Teaira McCowan all scored double figures to lead the eighth-ranked Mississippi State women’s basketball team to a 92-34 win Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
Vivians and McCowan led Vic Schaefer’s squad with 20 points each, while Okorie collected a career-high 15 on 7 of 8 shooting as Mississippi State improved to 4-0 on the season.
McCowan claimed her third-straight double-double as she added 11 rebounds.
“I was really proud of how we played. I thought we shared the ball and made extra passes. We made shots when we were given the opportunity. I thought our inside game was outstanding again,” Schaefer said. “Our guards did a nice job of getting the ball inside, and our point guard play was really good. We had 10 turnovers, but I’ll take that all year.
“(Norfolk State) played a lot of zone, but I thought we were patient. Norfolk State is a lot better than they played tonight. I thought our press was very effective and wore them out a little bit. That’s the same team that had 27 offensive rebounds against Virginia. They’re very capable of beating you on the boards. I’m really pleased with how hard we played. I thought our size was a factor again.”
The win was the Bulldogs’ ninth-straight at home and 24 in their last 26 home games going back to 2013-14.
Mississippi State never trailed in the contest and took control with a 24-12 opening quarter of play thanks to six points from Okorie.
Mississippi State broke the game open with a 13-2 run over the next four minutes to take a 20-6 advantage. Okorie had four points in the run, and Kayla Nevitt and Blair Schaefer added back-to-back 3-pointers.
MSU capped the opening quarter with a tip-in at the buzzer by McCowan.
The Bulldogs opened up a 51-21 halftime lead thanks to a 27-9 second quarter. Vivians scored nine of her 12 first-half points in the period. The Bulldogs shot 45 percent from the field while holding the Spartans (0-5) to just 2 of 10 (20 percent) for the quarter.
Vivians turned in the 10th 20-plus point game of her career, including the second this season. The Carthage native finished the night 8 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range.
“I felt comfortable last year shooting,” Vivians said. “I think I am taking better shots, being more patient with my shot and not just jacking it up most of the time.”
McCowan scored the first four points of the quarter before Vivians knocked down a 3-pointer to push the MSU lead to 18 at 31-13.
A pair of Morgan William free throws extended the lead to 20, and Vivians followed with a jumper to put State in front 35-13 with 5:43 left in the opening half.
Okorie capped the final two minutes of the quarter with four points, including a transition layup to give MSU the commanding lead at the intermission.
“I appreciate the opportunity to play here. My teammates have been amazing over the years and I just understand exactly what my coach wants from me,” Okorie said of her career night. “He’s not expecting 20 points from me. He just wants me to play hard, rebound the ball and put back the stickbacks. That is what I have been really trying to focus on in my game. I am still working very hard.”
MSU scored the final four points of the first half and kept it going to start the third quarter, scoring the first 16 points to build a 68-21 lead. Vivians sparked the run with eight points, and Okorie added five points.
The Bulldogs outscored the Spartans 25-9 for the third period, knocking down 10 of 17 field goals for 58 percent.
Mississippi State got six points each from Blair Schaefer and Sherise Williams as it out-paced Norfolk State 16-4 over the final 10 minutes.
State turned in its best shooting performance of the season, knocking down 50 percent (36 of 72) from the field. MSU hit 8 of 23 (34.8 percent) from 3-point range and 12 of 14 free throws for 85.7 percent.
Blair Schaefer ended the night with nine points, while Dominique Dillingham and William joined Williams with six points apiece.
Defensively MSU held the Spartans to 26.9 percent (14 of 52) from the floor and 0 of 4 from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs won the boards 43-31 and forced 23 Norfolk State turnovers. Freshman Jazzmun Holmes created eight assists for the third-straight game as MSU registered 29 for the game.
MSU wraps its season-opening homestand Sunday, taking on Savannah State in a 2 p.m. tip at Humphrey Coliseum.
(From MSU Media Relations)