Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

No. 5 Bulldogs Defeat USC, Win Women Of Troy Classic

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - No. 5 Mississippi State had to dig deep to keep its undefeated start to the season alive. The Bulldogs trailed most of the afternoon, but a strong second-half performance at the foul line and strong offensive play from Victoria Vivians, Morgan William and Breanna Richardson lifted MSU past Southern California 76-72 win to the Women of Troy Classic held at USC's Galen Center. (Article Source: MSU Athletics Media Relations)

MSU improved to 12-0 and completed its month-long run away from the Humphrey Coliseum with its third tournament title for the season. MSU has won 11 of its 12 games away from home and will finally return to the friendly confines of the Hump for its final two non-conference games against Alabama State and Northwestern State.

The Bulldogs, who have 40 of their last 41 non-conference games, claimed the third-best start to a season in program history.

"I would like to give credit to USC," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "I am not sure how we won the game. It was one heck of a basketball game between two teams competing their hearts out."

All-tournament selection Vivians led the Bulldogs with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Tournament MVP William added 18 points, while Richardson had 17 points and nine rebounds - one board shy of a double-double. Chinwe Okorie also had six rebounds.

The Bulldogs trailed 33-29 at halftime. In the opening half, the Bulldogs only had four free throw attempts. In the second half, MSU got the ball to the basket more and was rewarded with 25 second-half free throw attempts.

"We talked about being more aggressive in the second half," Schaefer said. "We had 17 offensive rebounds and that led to 12 second-half points. I am really proud of Jazzmun (Holmes). She was spectacular today. She started it and Morgan finished it off.

"I am really proud to be 12-0. It will be great to be playing at home again. We haven't been there in a month."

MSU also got a huge lift off the bench from Holmes (four points, five assists in 12 minutes) and Teaira McCowan (four points, seven rebounds in 21 minutes).

The nip-and-tuck contest was close throughout. The score was tied 12 times and the lead changed hands 14 times. The largest MSU lead was five points, while the largest USC lead was seven points.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good when Richardson pulled down the defensive rebound and was fouled on the offensive end. Richardson then hit both free throws for a 72-70 lead with 2:20 left.

Another big stop followed as McCowan had a blocked shot. Vivians got the rebound and fed William for a critical layup on the other end. William also drew a foul and hit a free throw to complete a three-point play.

Southern Cal hit two free throws with 1:09 left. The Bulldogs missed a pair of shots in hopes to expand the lead. Vivians got another key rebound with a second left and hit one free throw to close out the win.

Southern Cal led 14-13 after one quarter. Vivians pushed the teams into a tie at 20-20 on a 3-pointer. Southern Cal would then build a 28-22 lead on an 8-0 run. The Bulldogs closed within three once before tailing by four at the break.

The Bulldogs fell down seven at 48-41 with 4:04 left in the third quarter. The Maroon and White followed with a 14-6 run for a 55-54 lead heading into the final period.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 24 of 57 shots from the field (42.1 percent), 5 of 14 shots from 3-point range (35.7 percent) and 23 of 29 shots from the foul line (79.3 percent). The Women of Troy hit 26 of 54 shots from the field (48.1 percent), 6 of 11 shots from 3-point range (54.5 percent) and 14 of 18 shots from the foul line (77.8 percent).

MSU held a 40-24 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 15 turnovers, while the Women of Troy had 14 assists and 11 turnovers.

Southern Cal (8-2) received 24 points from Sadie Edwards, 15 points from Kristen Simon and 14 points from Minyon Moore. Simon also had a team-high seven rebounds.

Mississippi State returns home to host its Christmas Hail State Hoops Luncheon Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., followed by a 7 p.m. tip against Alabama State in the Hump.

Fans can RSVP for the luncheon by calling (662) 325-0198 or by e-mailing dbrown@athletics.msstate.edu.

Tuesday's game is $1 Night at the Hump, with $1 tickets and $1 hot dogs. Fans can also have pictures made with Santa and the Golden Egg. Fans can also bring stuffed teddy bears for the halftime Teddy Bear Toss by BancorpSouth. The bears will be collected and donated to children in need by the Salvation Army and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.


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