Bulldogs use dominant inside play to power past Alabama

By hailstate.com

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State played its most complete game of the season Thursday night, posting a 75-51 Southeastern Conference women’s basketball victory over Alabama at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Bulldogs led from the opening tip, grabbed a conference game-high 55 rebounds and blocked a conference game-best 11 shots.

With the victory, MSU improved to 12-14 overall and 4-9 in SEC play. Alabama fell to 12-14 and 2-11. The Bulldogs have now taken three straight and eight of the last nine meetings from the Crimson Tide.

Martha Alwal posted her 14th double-double of the season as she poured in 15 points and matched her season high with 18 rebounds. She came two blocks shy of a triple-double, recording a season-high eight that tied her tally against Mississippi Valley State last season for third-most in single-game school history.

“This game to me was about redeeming myself from the LSU loss on Sunday,” Alwal said. “Leaving scoreless with one rebound really bothered me, so my focus for tonight was to play with all I had.”

Carnecia Williams led MSU with 25 points, one off her career high, and hauled in eight rebounds.

“I thought our 4 and 5 (Williams and Alwal) were excellent tonight,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We knew we had an advantage there. Those two were 8-of-15 from the floor. Martha has a double-double, and Carnecia goes for 25 points. She played the way she has been practicing.”

The Bulldogs established their dominance inside early. MSU pieced together an 8-0 run to build an early 19-9 advantage. The lead was pushed to 12 minutes later on a 3-point basket by Kendra Grant.

Alabama responded with the game’s next seven points to close within 25-20. However, an inability to guard the paint and make shots plagued the Crimson Tide all night.

MSU built the lead back to double digits with four straight points from Jerica James. The Bulldogs kept that comfortable lead, taking a 38-28 advantage to the intermission.

“We were up 10 at halftime and it really should have been 15,” Schaefer said. “I challenged them at halftime to come out and throw the first punch, so to speak. I thought we really did that. At the second timeout of the second half, with 11 minutes left, (Alabama) only had one field goal.”

With MSU leading 42-30, the Bulldogs put together a 13-0 run to remove all doubt from the contest. The Crimson Tide went better than six minutes without scoring during that run.

“Our last few games, the second half was our worst time,” Williams said. “The way we came out tonight after the half was very important to us.”

The lead grew to 20 at 50-30 on back-to-back baskets from Grant and Williams. Three straight free throws moved the advantage to 55-30.

“I am really proud of this team,” Schaefer said. “They have weathered the storms this year. I really liked our competitiveness tonight. The thing is to keep getting better. We need to get better each time we play. Then, when the last game of the year is played, we will see where we stand.

“We wanted to dominate them with our heart. I thought we did that.”

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 66 shots from the field (39.4 percent), 3 of 9 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 20 of 27 shots from the foul line (74.1 percent). The Crimson Tide hit 17 of 65 shots from the field (26.2 percent), 5 of 18 shots from 3-point range (27.8 percent) and 12 of 15 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent).

MSU held a 55-40 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 17 turnovers, while the Crimson Tide had 10 assists and 21 turnovers.

Grant finished with 11 points for MSU.

Alabama received 16 points from Kaneisha Horn and 10 rebounds from Meghan Perkins.

MSU plays at South Carolina at 2 p.m. CT Sunday. The Bulldogs return home to host their final luncheon on Wednesday, a day before taking on No. 12 Georgia on Senior Night in the Hump.

Click video to hear audio