By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
The learning process has been painful for Mississippi State’s women, but there are good moments to which they can cling.
The Lady Bulldogs are looking for a few good moments today when they open SEC Tournament play, as the No. 12 seed, against 13th-seeded Alabama. Tipoff in Duluth, Ga., is 5 p.m., and the winner plays South Carolina on Thursday.
MSU (13-16, 5-11 SEC) started its first season under coach Vic Schaefer with a 9-4 non-conference record. Then came six consecutive losses to open SEC play.
“Our inexperience, our immaturity and our youth just really is something that we’ve learned to deal with throughout the course of the season,” Schaefer said. “I’m awfully proud of the 11 (players) that I have.”
MSU has won four of its last eight games, including a 50-38 upset of then-No. 11 Georgia six days ago. But that was followed up by a loss to Auburn.
Schaefer has had to deal with such frustration all season but is trying to find the positives – or as he calls them, “the little victories” that don’t show up on the scoreboard.
“It’s really been quite rewarding to look back over the course of this season and see how far they’ve done in their development,” Schaefer said. “There’s so much satisfaction to see the smiles on their faces and the tears in their eyes after some of the victories that we’ve had over some very, very good teams in this conference.”
MSU sophomore Martha Alwal, who averaged 12.6 points and 9.9 rebounds in league play, was named a second-team All-SEC selection on Tuesday. She’s second in the league with 74 blocked shots.
Today’s game with Alabama (12-17, 2-14) is a rematch of a 75-51 State win on Feb. 21 in Starkville. The Crimson Tide enters this tournament on a 10-game losing streak.
MSU-Alabama is the only game tonight, because only 13 teams are in the field this year. Ole Miss isn’t participating because of a self-imposed penalty related to possible NCAA violations.