The Mississippi State University Lady Bulldogs used the last seconds of the game to cap off a dominating performance as they won their 12th straight game against the University of Mississippi with an 80-39 defensive effort.
It is the second win in a row for MSU as they had previously defeated Vanderbilt on the road in a hard-fought game. Jordan Danberry, a graduate guard from Conway, Arkansas, said the team came out with more energy at the start of the game which helped them outscore Ole Miss by 24. By the end of the first quarter, they were leading 30-6.
"We had a rough game there as well," Danberry said. "We just knew that we had to punch first, and it's a rivalry game, so we're going to have a lot of energy for that game."
Defensively, MSU played lock-down as the forced 23 turnovers by the Rebels. This was mainly due to the high energy in the first 10 minutes of the game. The momentum carried the Bulldogs forward.
Head coach Vic Schaefer said he was not only proud of the 9,503 fans in attendance, but also the way his team played the game.
"Proud of our kids for the way they came out and played in the first 10 minutes and set the tone for the whole game," Schaefer said. "We are really giving God the glory for six [wins] and one [loss] and almost to the halfway point through the SEC."
Schaefer also approved of the performance by Xaria Wiggins, a sophomore guard from Virginia Beach, Virginia, who had five assists and eight points in 22 minutes of game time.
Practice is where a player like Wiggins can work their way into a starting role. That is exactly what she did. Schaefer said a point he has been trying to prove is, if they keep working hard, they will get their opportunity.
"She wasn’t playing that great earlier in the year," Schaefer said. "But she put in the time and has been doing some good things in practice. When she’s been given the opportunities during the ball games she has come through."
Wiggins said she feels she has performed well when she gets opportunities like today. It helps build confidence for herself.
"Getting the confidence from the minutes I'm getting on the court," Wiggins said. "My teammates sitting here and supporting me and pushing me every day, that definitely helps too."
As head coach, Schaefer always emphasizes the importance of seizing the moment. He addressed the team before the game as news broke of Kobe Bryant Bryant's daughter Gianna and six others, tragically passed away in a helicopter accident.
The team found out before the game. Danberry said the news was heartbreaking, adding that the team gives their condolences and prayers to the Bryant family.
"We were all watching the news and listening to it right before the game," Danberry said. "So, it definitely impacted us a lot just to hear that news of a legend and his daughter, just to see a little mini Mamba. We definitely are hurt by it."
In his address to the team before the game, Schaefer said he talked about his son’s own near fatal accident and how people are only guaranteed today and how life is fleeting.
"When you’re young, you live so carefree, and you think you are going to live forever," Schaefer said. "Things can change in one moment. It is such a tragedy, for somebody who did so much for our game as a player, as an ambassador and as a great dad."
As his team seized the moment in their win over Ole Miss, Schaefer reminded his team that they should never take the life they have for granted.
"All I have is the words I told my team before we hit the court and that is embrace the day. Embrace this moment and do not take anything for granted," Schaefer said. "Appreciate the things you have because you never know when you are going to get that phone call."