FAYETEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 13 Mississippi State women’s basketball team made a strong statement in its quest to return to the nation’s Top 10.
Fresh off an overtime home win over No. 19 Tennessee, the first in program history, MSU went back on the road Sunday afternoon and completed a 2-0 week on the hardwood with a 65-55 win over Arkansas in Southeastern Conference action at Bud Walton Arena.
MSU improved to 19-4 overall and 6-3 in conference play. Thanks to Florida’s upset win over Kentucky, MSU and Florida remain tied for third place in the league standings with seven league games remaining. Arkansas fell to 9-13 and 4-5.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to get out of here with a win,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Three Top 25 teams had come in here and lost and another had to go to overtime. We feel fortunate to win by 10. I don’t think either team would say they played great.
“We had 21 turnovers. However, we were 21 of 24 at the line. We have done that well all year. We beat a good basketball team. We beat a team that has played well since they left our place. I thought we defended well. We held them to 55 again. That has been the magic number. Proud at how we competed today. After two big games (South Carolina and Tennessee), we were worried about a letdown.”
MSU completed a two-game season-sweep of Arkansas for the first time since 2007 and won for the fifth time ever on the Arkansas campus. The Bulldogs held the Razorbacks to 55 points in each victory, the second and third lowest point totals for the Razorbacks in a league game this season.
The victory capped off an impressive weekend on the courts for the Bulldogs. The MSU men won 76-62 Saturday at Missouri. In both road wins, neither the MSU men nor the women trailed at any point in the contest.
The Bulldogs placed four in double figures. Victoria Vivians led the way with 17 points. Dominique Dillingham and Morgan William each added 11 points, while Breanna Richardson added 10 points.
MSU set the tone early with another dominating performance on the defensive end.
Vivians and Richardson scored back-to-back baskets to cap a 10-0 run as the Bulldogs built a 14-4 lead. Arkansas scored twice in the final 1:16 of the first quarter to trail 16-8 at the end of the quarter.
Jazzmun Holmes and Vivians scored consecutive buckets to start the second quarter as the Maroon and White grabbed a 20-8 lead. The Bulldogs kept the lead around double digits for the remainder of the half and led 27-18 at the break.
In the third quarter, Ketara Chapel scored a basket, two of six points in the quarter for her, and Vivians followed with a 3-pointer, and suddenly the lead grew to 14 at 32-18. A layup by Chapel ran the lead to a game-best 16-point advantage at 36-20.
The Razorbacks closed within 10 before the Bulldogs scored six straight for a 44-28 lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
Arkansas was back within nine at 54-45, but Dillingham took care of that rally with a 3-pointer on the offensive end and a key steal on the defensive end.
“We started the game and started the third quarter punching first,” Schaefer said. “We have talked about that all year. Practice had not been great. We had every right to have a letdown after two emotional games, but we told the kids before the game we didn’t want to see any signs of a letdown.”
For the contest, MSU hit 21 of 48 shots from the field (43.8 percent), 2 of 7 shots from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 21 of 24 shots from the foul line (87.5 percent). Arkansas hit 19 of 63 shots from the field (30.2 percent), 3 of 11 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 14 of 19 shots from the foul line (73.7 percent).
MSU held a 38-33 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 21 turnovers, while the Razorbacks had eight assists and 16 turnovers.
Arkansas received 12 points apiece from Jessica Jackson and Jordan Danberry.
MSU remains on the road for a Thursday contest against LSU. The Bulldogs and Tigers tip at 8 p.m. nationally on the SEC Network. MSU returns home for a 2 p.m. start against Missouri on Feb. 7.
(From MSU Media Relations)