No. 4 Mississippi State University Women’s basketball (32-1, 16-0 SEC) beat the Nicholls State University Colonels (19-13, 11-7 Southland) 95-50 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday evening.
Nicholls made the tournament after upsetting two teams in the Southland Conference Tournament to win the program’s first Southland Conference Tournament Championship and earning the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.
After the game, head coach Vic Schaefer said he was disappointed in the team’s slow defensive start.
“I’m beginning to think it is our team, we take a while to settle in defensively, we’ve been doing it now for 34 games,” Schaefer said. “I think this is who we are. I’ll keep trying to coach and change it, but you have to be careful with that. You don’t want a team to jump on you on the first quarter.”
After the first quarter, however, MSU never looked back. By halftime, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 54-24 lead.
Senior guard Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs with 20 points, while senior guard Blair Schaefer and junior center Teaira McCowan both had 18.
Even though MSU won by 45 points, coach Schaefer and his players agreed they were rusty after the two week break between the SEC tournament final and this game.
“[Nicholls] really came in and played extremely hard,” Vic Schaefer said. “We are not very sharp, and have 48 hours to knock it off.”
Blair Schaefer agreed with the coach, saying, “We’ve got to figure it out; it is a mentality honestly.”
As for Nicholls’ head coach DoBee Plaisance, she said, “I cannot be more proud of our kids, the way that they battled and it is what got us to this point.”
Of MSU’s performance Plaisance said, “They were a class act and they shot the ball well, and [I] was impressed all the way around.”
This was also Nicholls’ first time in the NCAA tournament, and was therefore a historic moment for the Colonels.
“I cannot thank Mississippi State, Coach Vic, the Starkville community, everyone has been so embracing since we’ve been here,” Plaisance said. “This was a historic moment for us and I believe all you guys understood that, and I appreciate it. You guys made us feel special, and we felt like champions coming into Starkville.”
The Bulldogs will now advance to the second round and play Oklahoma State University on Monday, March 19 at 8 p.m. in Starkville. ESPN2 will broadcast the game.