MSU suffers first SEC setback at Missouri

Missouri's Juanita Robinson, right, and Mississippi State's Morgan William scramble for a loose ball during the second half. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Missouri’s Juanita Robinson, right, and Mississippi State’s Morgan William scramble for a loose ball during the second half. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A tough night from the field meant a Southeastern Conference road loss for the No. 6/7 Mississippi State women’s basketball team.

MSU battled back from an early 20-point deficit before falling 66-54 to No. 24 Missouri Thursday night at Mizzou Arena.

MSU fell to 16-2 overall and 3-1 in league play, while Missouri improved to 15-2 and 2-2.

The Bulldogs saw an 11-game win streak snapped while losing for the first time in five series meetings with the Tigers. MSU fell short in its second straight season of trying to start 4-0 in league play for a first time.

“Tonight is about Missouri,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Their kids really played their hearts out. You have to give them a lot of credit. They played great. We didn’t shoot it well. We didn’t play well. Sometimes that is life on the road in this league. We will go back home and regroup.

“They played like we do most nights. We didn’t have that fire tonight. I take responsibility for that. We got down 20 early. It’s my job as coach to have my team ready to play and they weren’t ready tonight. Compliment Missouri for playing a fine game.”

Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs with 19 points. Teaira McCowan added 10 rebounds. However, the Bulldogs were unable to overcome a season-low 27.6 percent night from the field.

“We didn’t come out to ready to play,” MSU sophomore guard Morgan William said. “They kept coming after us. They punched us in the mouth and we didn’t really respond.”

Missouri used an early 8-2 run to break a 4-4 tie. The Bulldogs were held five minutes without a basket as the Tigers built a 20-9 lead. Missouri led 23-11 after one quarter.

After McCowan scored a basket to start the second half, Missouri followed with 10 straight points to open a 33-13 lead with 4:59 left in the half. From there, the Bulldogs slowly battled back with a 3-pointer by Kayla Nevitt starting the rally.

LaKaris Salter also added a 3-pointer in the final minute as MSU closed within 36-25 at halftime.

Vivians scored a basket to start the second half. Minutes later, a basket by McCowan had the Bulldogs within 38-31. However, the hosts built the lead back to 12 in the final minute of the third quarter.

MSU got no closer than within seven points in the final period.

“Missouri is very competitive,” Schaefer said. “We are that way most nights. I have used that word all year with my team. You can see it on film that they play their hearts out. That is why you coach. Their fan base is growing. Our fan base is growing. People like the way we play the game. We didn’t play that way tonight.”

For the contest, MSU hit 21 of 76 shots from the field (27.6 percent), 2 of 17 shots from 3-point range (11.8 percent) and 10 of 12 shots from the foul line (83.3 percent). Missouri hit 25 of 50 shots from the field (50.0 percent), 5 of 18 shots from 3-point range (27.8 percent) and 11 of 16 shots from the foul line (68.8 percent).

Missouri held a 43-40 rebounding advantage. MSU had eight assists and 10 turnovers, while Missouri had 14 assists and 19 turnovers.

Missouri received 22 points from Sophie Cunningham and a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds from Jordan Frericks.

MSU returns to the Humphrey Coliseum for a Monday night matchup with in-state rival Ole Miss. The Bulldogs and Rebels tip at 6 on the SEC Network.

(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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