NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Mississippi State went back out on the road and grabbed another quality win in its march to the NCAA tournament.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs built a 16-point lead and withstood a late rally to hold off Vanderbilt 66-61 in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball action at Memorial Gym.
MSU won its second conference road game in five days to improve to 23-6 overall and 10-5 in league play. Vanderbilt fell to 15-13 and 4-11. The Bulldogs claimed its third win ever at Memorial Gymnasium and its first since 2010.
Entering Sunday’s SEC regular-season finale at home against Alabama, the Bulldogs are in sole possession of third place in the conference standings. A win over the Crimson Tide would allow MSU to match the school record for conference wins in a season and also secure a double-bye in the league tournament.
MSU has now won 10 or more conference games for a third time in program history, including back-to-back seasons.
“Our kids played really well,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We defended well. We rebounded well. I am really proud of the effort. We have to hang our hat on our defense. That is what we do best. We went out there and showed that tonight.”
Victoria Vivians led MSU with 21 points, her second-straight game with 20-plus points. Morgan William added 15 points, while Dominique Dillingham added 12.
Behind a strong offensive start from Vivians, the Bulldogs built a quick lead. Eight strong points by the MSU sophomore pushed the Bulldogs to a 14-3 lead with 3:31 left in the first quarter. Vanderbilt missed seven of its first eight shots from the field and had to fight uphill the remainder of the contest.
MSU led 16-10 after one quarter and quickly stretched that lead again with back-to-baskets from Breanna Richardson and William. Still, the Bulldogs could not pull away in the second quarter. A late rally by the hosts brought the Commodores within 31-25 at the intermission.
In the third quarter, MSU turned up the defensive pressure and appeared ready to pull away. The Bulldogs opened a 12-point lead at 37-25 on a Chinwe Okorie putback. After Vanderbilt closed within seven, a 9-0 run by the Maroon and White gave the Bulldogs all of the momentum and a 46-30 lead with 4:15 left third quarter.
Playing on Senior Night, Vanderbilt responded and had the deficit to within 10 entering the final quarter. The Commodores kept crawling back and actually used a pair of 3-point baskets to slice within 58-55 with 33 seconds left. Vivians also fouled out during that run.
Still, William hit six free throws and Dillingham also hit two close to close the door on another huge road win.
For the contest, MSU hit 23 of 49 shots from the field (46.9 percent), 4 of 10 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 16 of 22 shots from the foul line (72.7 percent). Vanderbilt hit 19 of 40 shots from the field (47.5 percent), 2 of 9 shots from 3-point range (22.2 percent) and 21 of 25 shots from the foul line (84.0 percent).
MSU held a 30-21 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 10 assists and 22 turnovers, while the Commodores had 11 assists and 25 turnovers.
Vanderbilt received 14 points from Rachel Bell, 12 points from Morgan Batey, 11 points from Christa Reed and 11 points from Marqu’es Webb.
MSU will host Alabama at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Senior Day festivities from the Humphrey Coliseum will be held pregame with the game available nationally online and via the WatchESPN app on SEC Network +.
(From MSU Media Relations)