Lady Bulldogs Defense Locks Down Owls

In another Friday night thriller at the Hump, Mississippi State women's basketball team defeated the Owls of Florida Atlantic, 59-58.

Complete Game Stats

After a difficult loss to Southern Miss, Coach Vic Schaefer's Lady Bulldogs looked to start off their five game homestand strongly against the Florida Atlantic Owls.

Mississippi State jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Owls of Florida Atlantic charged back with a layup and wide open three to take a 5-4 lead.

But thanks to the play of true freshman Sherise Williams, who scored nine of the Lady Bulldogs' thirteen points in the first five minutes of the half, Mississippi State had jumped out to a 21-14 lead over the Owls at the midway point of the opening half.

But and injury and a leg cramp to two Lady Bulldog players allowed the Owls to gain momentum in the latter stages of the first half.

After recording four assists, Katia May went down with an ankle injury with 8:36 left to play while Carnecia Williams suffered from leg cramps late in the half.

The Lady Bulldogs were up by seven but saw Florida Atlantic reduce it to a one-point lead thanks to timely three point shooting. The Owls ended up being were 3-of-11 (27.3%) from beyond the arc in the first half.

The Lady Bulldogs, thanks to turnovers on defense, pushed the back out to five with 4:13 left.

But Schaefer's team struggled with communication and inbounding toward the end of the half, which allowed the Owls to take a 36-32 at the half.

During the first half, the Lady Bulldogs turned the ball over a dismal 18 times. And Florida Atlantic made the most of the situation, scoring 19 points off of the Bulldogs' miscues.

After a slow start in the second half, the Bulldogs scored seven quick points to close with one.

Four of the Lady Bulldogs points came within twenty seconds of one another off of two turnovers created in transition.

After struggling with inbound passing in the first half, Coach Schaefer must have emphasized inbounding at the half because his team created two huge scoring opportunities down on their end of the floor on key inbound passes.

The Lady Bulldogs finally gained a lead again eight minutes into the second half when Kendra Grant drew a foul and converted both of her free throws to put MSU ahead by one.

Both teams battled back and forth for the next few minutes and at the 7:44 mark the scored was knotted up at 46-46.

Neither team could develop a rhythm on offense, turning the ball over.

Lady Bulldog freshman Sherise Williams scored a critical three-point play to put MSU ahead by one.

MSU extended the lead to 57-52 with 3:43 remaining in the game.

But the Owls scored the next 4 points to make the score 57-56 with two minutes on the clock.

Both teams scored two points each during the next minute of play to make the score 59-58 with just under a minute left to play.

Florida Atlantic had a chance to go ahead by one point but missed the front end of a one plus one.

The Lady Bulldogs turned the ball over but the Owls were called for an offensive charge.

With a five second difference between the shot clock and game clock, MSU point guard Katia May ran the game clock down to twenty seconds but had trouble pushing the ball down the court. Coach Schaefer took a timeout to help his team regroup.

But on the inbound pass Martha Alwal turned the ball over, giving the Owls another offensive opportunity with just 15 seconds on the game clock.

The Lady Bulldogs used a tenacious defense to lock down the Owls during those 15 seconds to secure a hard fought 59-58 win.

Four players scored in double digits for the Lady Bulldogs with Sherise Williams leadig the way with a season high 15 points. She was followed by Martha Alwal, Kendra Grant, and Carnecia Williams who each scored 10.

Mississippi State put up an impressive shooting performance, recording 23-of-46 (50%) for the game.

The dagger for Florida Atlantic was their dismal three-point shooting, hitting just 7 of 26 shots beyond the arc. Mississippi State had to fight through their 35 turnovers themselves.

Head Coach Vic Schaefer said after the game, "I'm proud of our kids for winning a close game with defense, when we've lost two that way. We had some toughness down the stretch to get a win."

Coach Schaefer credited a large part of the success to junior Candace Foster.

"The unsung hero tonight was Candace Foster," said Schaefer. "She shut their point guard down during the second half. She brought a level of intensity and defense that we lacked tonight."

As for the turnovers, Schaefer thinks his team has a chance to be a much better team if they can improve in that aspect of the game.

"If we can get the turnovers down to twenty (per game), there is no telling what we can do. I really think this team is going to keep getting better," said Schaefer.

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