By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State kept its season alive Thursday night advancing in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament with a 77-68 victory over Tulane.
It was the Bulldogs’ first postseason win since reaching the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10 and also the first under second year head coach Vic Schaefer.
“We talked about throwing the first punch tonight, which I thought we did in the first half,” Schaefer said. “That’s kind of where the game stayed after we punched them the first couple of times. Basically it stayed there.”
MSU (20-13) controlled the game from the opening tip and never trailed in the contest.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 15 point advantage in the first nine minutes of the game and led 41-33 at halftime. But Tulane responded early in the second half and cut the deficit to two.
State was able to expand its lead back out to double digits in just over two minutes capped off by an old fashioned 3-point play from Breanna Richardson.
“You knew (Tulane) was going to make a run in the second half,” Schaefer said. “I was disappointed with how we came out of the locker room but I was also excited with how we answered it. I didn’t think about calling a timeout when they cut it to two. I just felt like our kids have been resilient all year.”
The Bulldogs shot 40.3 percent from the field led by 15 points apiece from Martha Alwal and Savannah Carter. Alwal also added five rebounds, five blocks and two steals on her 21st birthday.
Richardson finished with a double-double netting 13 points and 10 rebounds while Dominique Dillingham added 11 points. Kendra Grant contributed 10 points in 25 minutes off the bench.
Jamie Kaplan had 17 points for the Green Wave (20-11).
Mississippi State will now host instate rival Southern Miss on Monday at 7 p.m. in the WNIT second round. The two teams met earlier this season in Starkville with the Bulldogs claiming a 71-61 victory.
The Lady Eagles advanced on Thursday by defeating Lamar 75-60 in Hattiesburg. Brittany Dinkins had 17 points for USM.