Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

No. 5 MSU defeat SMU 91-41; Play for Women of Troy Classic Title

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - No. 5 Mississippi State sent an emphatic statement to start its final weekend of non-conference road play Friday night. The Bulldogs turned in a solid performance from start to finish, rolling over Southern Methodist 91-42 in an opening-round game at the Women of Troy Classic played in the Galen Center on the campus of Southern California. (Article Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

MSU will play for its third tournament title of the season at 3 p.m. CT Sunday when it faces the host Southern Cal. It was the Bulldogs' largest margin of victory this season and third win by 40 or more points.

The Bulldogs improved to 11-0 and did it with relative ease against a Mustangs squad which had knocked off Southeastern Conference foe Texas A&M earlier in the season. MSU started strong, unlike recent road wins over Southern Mississippi and Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Bulldogs have now won 10 times away from Humphrey Coliseum this season, the most in the nation. Opening with 11-straight wins ties for the third-best start in program history.

Blair Schaefer led the MSU offensive attack with a career-high 18 points. Also in double figures were Victoria Vivians and Roshunda Johnson each with 13 points, Morgan William with 11 points and Chinwe Okorie with 10 points.

The Bulldogs matched a season high with 11 made 3-point baskets. Schaefer was 4-of-8 from long range, while Johnson was 4-of-6 and Vivians was 2-of-6.

Ameshya Williams had a team-high seven rebounds.

"I was pleased with how we came out," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "We were lethargic to start the game Tuesday night (in a win over Arkansas-Little Rock). It's a rough time of year because you have kids coming off finals. We worked out here early in the day yesterday. That was good as we have played all year.

"We shot the ball very well from the perimeter. When we shoot it like that, we are hard to guard. Our point guard play was really good. I am also proud of how well our bench played. We had 18 points off the bench in the first half. Defensively, we were very good."

The Bulldogs started well on both ends of the floor. A layup by Okorie ran the Maroon and White to a quick 8-2 advantage. A 3-pointer by Vivians pushed the lead to nine points at 15-6. A pair of free throws by Schaefer extended the lead to 19-6.

After SMU scored the first basket of the second quarter, MSU responded with a 12-1 run for a 31-11 lead. The Mustangs were held better than four minutes without a field goal during the run. The Bulldogs would later score the final six points of the half, with a basket from Jazzmun Holmes extending the lead to 44-18 at halftime.

"The game is meant to be fun," Vic Schaefer said. "These kids work really hard. College is supposed to be the four best years of your life. We work so hard in practice. When you see it come together on the court like that, it is very rewarding as a coach."

The Bulldogs were never threated in the second half. The lead grew to 33 points at 57-24 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Schaefer. A 10-0 run to the end the third quarter gave MSU a commanding 75-32 lead.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 34 of 66 shots from the field (51.5 percent), 11 of 21 shots from 3-point range (52.4 percent) and 12 of 19 shots from the foul line (63.2 percent). The Mustangs hit 14 of 47 shots from the field (29.8 percent), 1 of 8 shots from 3-point range (12.5 percent) and 13 of 25 shots from the foul line (52.0 percent).

MSU held a 37-35 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 22 assists and 13 turnovers, while the Mustangs had nine assists and 29 turnovers. MSU also had six blocks, 12 steals and scored 34 points off SMU turnovers.

Kiara Perry led SMU with 17 points.

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