MSU falls short in top 10 clash

Mississippi State forward Victoria Vivians (35) works against South Carolina center Alaina Coates (41) for a shot at the basket in the first half. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Mississippi State forward Victoria Vivians (35) works against South Carolina center Alaina Coates (41) for a shot at the basket in the first half. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

STARKVILLE – Not even the largest crowd to ever witness a women’s basketball game in the state of Mississippi was enough to help No. 10 Mississippi State upset second-ranked South Carolina on Sunday.

A sellout crowd of 10,626 packed into Humphrey Coliseum only to see the Gamecocks pull away with four free throws in the final 27 seconds for a 57-51 victory.

“That was a heck of a basketball game today, we just ran out of time,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. “We went toe-to-toe with that team and they’re so good and so talented. I couldn’t be prouder of my team. I’m certainly disappointed in losing and we’re certainly not in it for a moral victory.”

South Carolina remained one of two unbeaten teams, improving its record to 19-0 and 7-0 in conference play. The Gamecocks shot 43.2 percent led by two-time SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell with 21 points on 6 of 15 shooting.

Tina Roy scored 11 points off the bench and Khadijah Sessions added 10 points. A’ja Wilson and Alaina Coates grabbed 11 rebounds each.

South Carolina was held to its season low in points and tied its season high with 21 turnovers.

“I thought (the crowd) affected our play,” said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. “I thought we weren’t in character. We’re used to having favorable crowds but I’m happy that over 10,000 people got to see women’s basketball players playing in the peaks of their careers.”

The first three quarters were low scoring as the Gamecocks held 8-7, 22-20 and 34-30 leads at the end of those quarters.

MSU held a 20-19 advantage just before halftime but Roy buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Bulldogs never led again, only managing to tie the score with 7:47 left.

State (17-4, 4-3 SEC) shot 27.1 percent for the game but were outscored in the paint 28-10.

Victoria Vivians paced the Bulldogs with 19 points, 11 of which came in the final quarter. Morgan William and Ketara Chapel finished with 10 points each.

“At the end of the day when you play No. 2 in the country, you have to make plays for 40 minutes and we made plays for 39 today,” Schaefer said.

The 10,626 on hand was the fourth largest crowd ever at Humphrey Coliseum, trailing only three men’s crowds.

“We had 10,000 tonight and they walked out of here thinking that team played great and we’re proud of them,” Schaefer said. “The next time we get 10,000 and I get beat again, I want them walking out of here madder than heck.”

The Bulldogs continue their homestand with No. 18 Tennessee Thursday at 8 p.m. on SEC Network.

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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