Victoria Vivians' 30 points helped propel No. 6 Mississippi State University women’s basketball (8-0) over Oklahoma State University (6-2) in the Big12/SEC Challenge by a score of 79-76.
OSU’s Loryn Goodwin scored 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Cowgirls, and her performance was key to keeping the game close.
“What a competitor, you know, you go 13 for 29, she went to the line ten times and the kid had ten rebounds,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said after the game. “We forced her into six turnovers, but that kid played 40 minutes and really gutted it out for them.”
This close game, which saw the most points MSU has given up all season, caught the coach’s attention. Schaefer said it sometimes takes a loss for a coach’s attention to be grabbed, but was glad a win grabbed it instead.
“I don’t need to lose to get my attention, some coaches will go, 'hey we needed that, that gets our attention,'” Schaefer said. “I don’t need to lose y’all to get my attention, they don’t want to lose to get my attention. They have got my attention.”
The victory came the weekend during finals week, and to come out and play an OSU team Schaefer thinks will go to the tournament, is something Schaefer was proud of.
“It’s hard this time of year, my kids take great pride in their academics, and they have finals till Friday,” Schaefer said. “It isn’t like we played some three-named directional school, we just played a monster of a team out of the Big 12.”
One of the difficulties State is facing right now is not having as much depth as they want. Vivians, a senior guard from Carthage, talked about what she can do to teach the younger players, and get them to step up.
“I feel like showing by example in practice; if they see us go all out in practice, then they will want to go out and go as hard as we do,” Vivians said. “Don’t come in and not help, come in and, like coach said, come in and fix what is broken. If nothing is broken just do you and keep it going.”
As for concerns over playing the starters, Schaefer believes everyone has a job to do. The players do not want to come out of the game, so he has the faith his team can play the level they want with the amount of players he has.
“I don’t think anyone is saying, 'Coach get me out,' they like to play. Victoria doesn’t want to come out of the game, she would play 40 minutes every night if I let her,” Schaefer said. “At the end of the day, that is how we practice. If any team can play it, and do it with seven or eight kids, our team can. We are tough enough and mentally strong enough to do it.”
The Lady Bulldogs will take on University of Arkansas Little Rock at 2 p.m. on December 10 at the Hump.