After trailing at the end of the first quarter, No. 4 Mississippi State University Women’s basketball returned to form and beat the University of Alabama Crimson Tide 75-61.
In the second quarter, the bulldogs exploded, putting on a clinic of both offensive and defensive success. MSU (19-0, 5-0 SEC) outscored Alabama (13-5, 3-2 SEC) 28-9 to lead the Crimson Tide 44-29 by half time. Senior guard Victoria Vivians scored 12 points in the quarter. Vivians finished the game with 21 points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Senior Roshunda Johnson and junior center Teaira McCowan also had big games. Johnson scored 14 points and was the leader in three-point shooting with three, two of which came in the first quarter. She also stole the ball twice while playing 35 minutes with a minor leg injury.
McCowan continued to be dominant in the paint with 19 points, only connecting on 46.15 percent of her shots, as opposed to 92.3 percent on Thursday night.
Head coach Vic Schaefer believes McCowan’s consistency is important for the team to be successful, and credits Alabama for their effort to guard her.
“Tonight [McCowan] was battling,” Schaefer said. “Those kids were really competing with her.”
However, when asked about what changed for the team in the second quarter, Schaefer credited backup guards junior Jazzmun Holmes and transfer junior Jordan Danberry.
“(They) came in that second quarter and really made a difference, and played extremely well and impacted the game,” Schaefer said. “[Jordan] was really special today. They impacted the game when we were really struggling.”
Statistically, Alabama was superior to MSU in shooting percentage, and even in defensive rebounds, topping State 21 to 17. However, the one area in which the Bulldogs truly dominated was in the turnover battle. Alabama turned the ball over 26 times to MSU’s 13. Both head coaches believed turnovers were the deciding factor in this game.
“We outscored them by one in the second half,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “But we gave up too many turnovers.”
Schaefer also recognized how the turnovers helped them in this game.
“We had 35 points off of turnovers,” Schaefer said. “That’s a pretty significant number when you’re talking about basketball games. I’m proud of my team.”
The game’s attendance was announced as 9,010, which was the 3rd highest in program history. Curry appreciated the environment, even as the visiting team.
“Playing in this environment just makes us better,” Curry said.
Curry said she believes the fan support at Mississippi State makes the sport better in general.
As usual, Schaefer was quick to praise the support of fans.
“(It was a) pretty special day, you have 9,000 fans in the building today, made it a really electric atmosphere,” Schaefer said. “The crowd was loud today… it is really unique and special to walk out there and see all those people.”
MSU’s next game is one of their toughest of the season, as they take on No. 6 University of Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game is next Sunday, and tipoff is set for 2 p.m. ESPN2 will broadcast the game.