JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –Mississippi State simply did not have enough fire power.
Playing in its first Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament championship game since 2000, third-seeded MSU competed valiantly before falling 66-52 to top-seeded South Carolina at Veterans Memorial Arena.
South Carolina improved to 31-1, while MSU fell to 26-7 after advancing to the conference tournament championship for the second time in program history. The Bulldogs strengthened their NCAA resume by posting hard-fought wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee in this event.
MSU will learn its NCAA tournament fate when selections are announced at 6 p.m. CT on Monday, March 14 on ESPN. The Bulldogs are projected to make the tournament for a second straight season.
“I’m proud of my basketball team,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We are disappointed because we didn’t execute defensively like we wanted to. The game got away with us with about five minutes left in the first half. I have a locker room full of disappointed ladies because we had aspirations of winning a championship.”
After scoring 30 points in a tournament semifinal win over Tennessee, Victoria Vivians was back at it Sunday with 26 points for the Bulldogs on a 9-of-18 night from the field.
Vivians was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team after averaging 22.0 points on 45.1 percent shooting from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range.
Vivians was hot early and that allowed the Bulldogs to hang tough through an ultra-competitive first quarter. South Carolina ended the quarter with a 10-2 run to take a 20-15 lead.
Turnovers then mounted and the Bulldogs found the battle uphill after the second quarter.
South Carolina ended the half with a 13-2 run to grab a 33-21 lead at the break. During the run, the Bulldogs made only one of nine shots from the field and committed five turnovers.
“We fought really hard,” Schaefer said. “I thought our effort was really good. We simply made too many turnovers. We were beaten by a team that we feel like is No. 2 in the nation. They are just that good. The game got away from us there in the second quarter when we had some turnovers and they had some easy baskets.”
The Bulldogs closed within nine twice in the third quarter. A jumper by Dominique Dillingham brought the Maroon and White within 53-43 with 7:22 left. However, the Bulldogs were unable to get any closer.
Morgan William had nine points and six assists for the Bulldogs. Vivians and Chinwe Okorie each had a team-high eight rebounds.
For the contest, MSU hit 19 of 50 shots from the field (38.0 percent), 5 of 13 shots from 3-point range (38.5 percent) and 9 of 12 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). South Carolina hit 23 of 53 shots from the field (43.4 percent), 4 of 11 shots from 3-point range (36.4 percent) and 16 of 20 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent).
South Carolina held a 37-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 16 turnovers, while the Gamecocks had nine assists and 13 turnovers.
South Carolina received 19 points apiece from Tiffany Mitchell and A’Ja Wilson. Khadijah Sessions added 11 points for the Gamecocks.
(From MSU Media Relations)