Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

MSU Women's Basketball finishes tournament sweep with win over Hawaii

HONOLULU, Hawaii - The No. 7 Mississippi State women's basketball team enjoyed first half runs of 11-0 and 17-0 on the way to a convincing 66-41 win over Hawaii on Sunday that claimed the Bulldogs the Rainbow Wahine Showdown championship. (Article Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

The Bulldogs began the long plane ride home after the final day of the three-day event, but they will come home happy with a 3-0 tournament ledger and a 7-0 overall record.

Chinwe Okorie led the Bulldogs with a career-high 18 points, while Victoria Vivians added 10 points. Dominique Dillingham just missed double figures with nine points. Okorie had a team-high seven rebounds, while Morgan William had five assists, two steals and only one turnover.

Vivians earned her second Tournament MVP title of the season, and Okorie was named to the All-Tournament Team.

"I was proud of how our first group started out defensively," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "We had 11 first-half turnovers against the zone, but I am really proud of how we responded defensively. We got some easy baskets off the press. We bother a lot of people with our press and how we get it going in transition."

MSU started the contest strong, scoring the game's first 11 points. Hawaii battled back with a 9-0 run of its own for a 15-13 advantage.

From there, it was all Maroon and White. The Bulldogs shot brilliantly and smothered on defense during a 17-0 run. The big blows during that frame were back-to-back 3-point baskets by Roshunda Johnson, which made it 30-15.

Hawaii was held scoreless for right at seven minutes during the second quarter. A basket by Vivians pushed the Bulldogs out to a 33-19 lead at halftime.

"We prepared really hard for this event," Okorie said. "Being in this championship is great. Winning this championship is great but we are not satisfied. We still have a lot of work to do. We need to continue to grow."

In the second half, the Bulldogs expanded the lead and got more of the young faces some quality playing time. A basket by Breanna Richardson and 3-pointer by Dillingham got things going in the second half and quickly extended the lead to 38-19.

A 3-pointer by Dillingham pushed the advantage to 23 with 5:57 left in the third quarter. Hawaii was again held five minutes without any points as the lead stood at 53-34 after three quarters of play.

The Bulldogs continued the excellent work on the defensive end in the final quarter as they held the tournament hosts to seven points in the final period.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 64 shots from the field (40.6 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 8 of 14 shots from the foul line (57.1 percent). The Wahine hit 13 of 41 shots from the field (31.7 percent), 2 of 12 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 13 of 15 shots from the foul line (86.7 percent).

MSU held a 39-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 16 assists and 20 turnovers, while the Wahine had five assists and 30 turnovers.

Hawaii (2-5) received 11 points from Sarah Toeaina.

"We worked on the depth at this tournament," Schaefer said. "Trying to build a team, build our depth and build some confidence for some kids. It was important how we played out here. It was a great event and great experience for our kids. It has been a great educational experience to see one of the most beautiful parts of the world."

MSU will return to action Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. CT start at Iowa State. As part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, the MSU-ISU contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net.

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