After some first-half struggles, No. 9 Mississippi State found its second gear to return to the win column in women’s basketball action Sunday afternoon.
Behind 22 points from Victoria Vivians and a double-double from Chinwe Okorie, MSU blew past Tennessee State 82-54 in the Humphrey Coliseum.
State struggled out of the gate to hold a 35-34 lead at halftime. The Bulldogs turned the intensity up in the second half, out-scoring the Lady Tigers 47-20 the final 20 minutes.
MSU (6-1) bounced back from its 53-47 loss to No. 6 Texas Wednesday in Austin, Texas, to record its sixth win in seven games to start the season. The Bulldogs are now 6-0 at home this season and have won an SEC second-most 11-straight at Humphrey Coliseum.
“Hats off to Tennessee State,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Their energy and effort was outstanding. Their energy was a lot better than ours. They had kids make shots, but most of them were uncontested. I was disappointed in myself.
“The team was not ready to play. We had no energy or effort. There was no enthusiasm on the floor. One thing we are failing to do is communicating on the floor. We just don’t communicate well on the floor. I am not doing a good enough job of convincing the girls how important we have to be at communicating.”
Tennessee State (4-4) took advantage of a slow start to build a 12-5 lead with 4:28 left in the first quarter. The Bulldogs responded for a 13-12 lead on a Blair Schaefer 3-point basket.
Tennessee State quickly surged back ahead, taking a 19-14 lead with 8:06 left in the half. The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead at 21-19 on a Okorie layup.
The Bulldogs would later stretch the lead to six points before holding on for a 35-34 edge at halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs took the lead for good at 42-41 on a basket from Breanna Richardson with 5:20 left in the third quarter. The Maroon and White scored the final eight points of the quarter to take a commanding 60-44 lead.
Vivians’ 22 points came on 7 of 15 shooting, with two makes from 3-point range. Richardson added a season-high 14 points, while Okorie had 12 points and 13 rebounds, including nine on the offensive end.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 27 of 64 shots from the field (42.2 percent), 5 of 14 shots from 3-point range (35.7 percent) and 23 of 31 shots from the foul line (74.2 percent). The Lady Tigers hit 21 of 57 shots from the field (36.8 percent), 2 of 17 shots from 3-point range (11.8 percent) and 10 of 13 shots from the foul line (76.9 percent).
MSU held a 48-30 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 12 assists and 23 turnovers, while the Lady Tigers had eight assists and 30 turnovers.
Tennessee State received 14 points from I’Mani Davis.
After a break for final exams, MSU returns to the road Sunday for a 3 p.m. start at Louisiana Tech. The squad returns to the Humphrey Coliseum on Dec. 16 for a 7 p.m. start against in-state foe Southern Mississippi.
(From MSU Media Relations)