Sweet SEC Victory over Rival Rebels

Seeking their first SEC victory of the season, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs earned it with a convincing 72-57 win over the Ole Miss Lady Rebels Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.

Even though the Rebels have the all-time advantage over the Bulldogs, recently Mississippi State has taken seven of the last eight and five consecutive home victories. Coach Schaefer's team kept that streak alive.

After an opening 7-2 run by Ole Miss, Mississippi State quickly evened it up with contributions from Martha Alwal and Katia May.

But the Bulldogs struggled with rebounding early as Ole Miss jumped ahead 14-9 with 10:49 left in the half.

"The rebounding issue that we were having is as easy as blocking out. There is no sugar coating that. We are going to hold them accountable and make sure they get it and learn it, so it becomes instinctual," Schaefer said.

Rebel three-pointers also plagued the Bulldogs in the first half, and Mississippi State struggled to keep the pace. However, MSU's Jerica James launched a three herself that knotted the game up at eighteen with under seven minutes left in the first.

Near the end of the first half, the Bulldogs fought through mental struggles to finally get into an offensive rhythm. Much of this rhythm was due to the continual use of the high-low post-game.

With their rebounding and offensive struggles lasting through the entire first period, the Bulldogs trailed the Rebels 32-26 at halftime. Ole Miss outrebounded Mississippi State 26-15, with the Rebels getting 14 offensive boards to the Lady Bulldogs 4.

The Bulldogs started strong in the second half, tying it up 32-32 with a 6-0 opening run.

"Our issues that we talked about at halftime were penetration and rebounding. We made no effort to go to the offensive boards in the first half," Coach Schaefer said.

Sophomore Martha Alwal continued to be active in the scoring column as she added six to equal a seventeen point total, six minutes into the second half.

Another 6-0 run by Coach Schaefer's team expanded the lead 42-36 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs. This run also pushed the momentum in their favor as the crowd energy livened up the second half of play.

Sophomore Kendra Grant continued her focus with four points to expand the Bulldog lead to eight with ten minutes left to play.

"Kendra is 2-5 at halftime, and we just told her to take more shots. I could care less if she gets another assist at Mississippi State. I want her to shoot the ball," Schaefer said of Grant's effort.

Mississippi State consistently executed on the offensive end of the floor and jumped out to an eleven-point lead, their largest of the day.

Their lead and effort never wavered as Mississippi State picked up their first SEC victory of the year with a 72-57 win over Ole Miss.

The wealth of scoring was spread throughout a large portion of the squad. Martha Alwal led with a double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Following her were Katia May and Kendra Grant, who put up 15 and 20 points respectively.

Against an Ole Miss team known for their offense, Mississippi State forced the Rebels to shoot 18-66 (27.3%). Additionally, the Bulldogs posted 29-52 (55.8%) from the field.

A key factor in the Bulldogs' victory was the post play by Alwal and Carnecia Williams.

"Our inside game was pretty good. We did a great job of reading the defense and making some decisions. I thought Carnecia and Martha were pretty incredible today on both ends," said Schaefer.

Even though Coach Schaefer has been proud just about every time his team faces an opponent, everyone in attendance could see an extra bit of happiness as Coach Vic Schaefer embraced his players after the game. His passionate post-game comments showed how truly proud he was.

"I thought our team played really hard today. They played hard for the fans, and our effort was like it should be. It's our first SEC victory as a staff and a team. I couldn't be prouder of everybody that is involved with that, and it certainly is nice that it's over Ole Miss," Coach Schaefer stated emotionally.

Mississippi State looks to continue their momentum as they travel to Tennessee for a Thursday night game.

Carew Ferguson is a feature writer for the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing carewferguson@att.net.

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