The last time Mississippi State University's women’s basketball (26-0, 11-0 SEC) beat the University of Kentucky (12-14, 4-8 SEC) was in 2009, losing 11 times since.
On Sunday, this losing streak finally came to an end as MSU beat Kentucky 74-55. MSU outscored Kentucky 22 to eight in the first quarter, but Kentucky made a strong push in the second quarter, scoring 14 points.
MSU’s overall defense carried them in the first half, allowing them to score 14 points off of 13 Kentucky turnovers. Senior guard Roshunda Johnson also played a large part in the 40-22 lead at halftime, contributing 15 points and going 5-6 from 3-point range. After the game, head coach Vic Schaefer praised her offense in the first half.
“(Roshunda) was very special tonight, in first half especially. She made some really big shots for us and got us where we were at half time. We’re obviously not there if she’s not knocking down shots,” Schafer said. “It just changes us when you’ve got her and Blair (Schaefer) out there. We really fed off of her.”
In the third quarter, Kentucky came out strong and continued to attack MSU’s defense. They scored 21 points to MSU’s 16, cutting MSU’s lead to 9 with 1:30 left in the quarter.
Kentucky’s leading player was junior guard Maci Morris, who scored 17 points in the second half.
“I knew I needed to be more aggressive,” Morris said.
This strategy led her to 21 points, but she also fouled out of the game with 1:41 left in the game.
Vic Schaefer acknowledged her play.
“That third quarter was her time,” Schaefer said. “I knew she was going to come out and try to assert herself.”
MSU maintained their offense, as Johnson finished the game 6-12 with 17 points. Senior guard Victoria Vivians scored 23 points, and junior center Teaira McCowan dropped 21 points.
On their performance, Schaefer said, “In the second half, when Ro started struggling on offense, Victoria and Teaira really bailed us out.”
After scoring 15 points against Florida last Thursday, senior point guard Morgan William’s six points seemed less than ideal. Schaefer was quick to point out her role is not to have the most points, but to facilitate scoring by other players.
He highlighted another statistic, which he felt was more important.
“She has eight assists and no turnovers,” Schaefer said. “That’s an amazing stat. She’s doing what the point guard position demands of her. She knows that I want her to continue to do that, and play hard on defense.”
MSU will meet Kentucky again for the last game of the regular season in Lexington, hoping to begin their own win streak with two in a row.
MSU looks to extend their perfect season to 27-0 when they play Vanderbilt (6-19, 2-9 SEC) at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15 in Nashville. SECNetwork will broadcast the game and WatchESPN will stream it. The Bulldogs’ next home game is at 4 p.m. Feb. 18 against Texas A&M.