The #18 Mississippi State women’s basketball squad came into Thompson-Boling Arena today looking to break a 0-35 slump against #6 Tennessee. Sadly, the cards were not going to fall in the Bulldogs’ favor as Mississippi State ended up on the short end of the stick 79-67. #18 Mississippi State now drops to 22-3 (7-3 SEC) while #6 Tennessee rises to 19-3 (9-0 SEC) on the season.
This game went back and forth for the most part in the first half, as the two teams traded the lead through the first part of the half. As the game wore on, however, Tennessee began to pull away and went into halftime with a 5 point lead. Freshman guard Victoria Vivians was red hot in the first half as she had 13 of the Bulldogs’ 31 points in that first half. But, Tennessee’s Cierra Burdick who is considered their emotional leader came out red hot also, and helped lead this veteran Tennessee squad to the early lead.
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As the second half began, Tennessee came in energized and pulled out to an insurmountable 15 point lead. The Bulldogs would seem to try and fight back, but the Lady Volunteers would strike them down and add on to their already large lead. That was until about 3/4 of the way through the second half. Mississippi State began to grind away at the lead, chipping it all the way down to only a 5 point deficit. In the end, however, the Bulldogs just could not overcome the veteran size and athleticism of the Tennessee squad.
For the Bulldogs, Victoria Vivians led the way in scoring with 17 points. She was followed by Sophomore forward Breanna Richardson (13 points), Senior guard Kendra Grant (11 points), and Senior guard Jerica James (10 points). While the Bulldogs did force more turnovers than they gave up, 15 to 10, they just couldn’t get out of foul trouble. Mississippi State had 21 total fouls called during the course of the game, compared to Tennessee’s 12 foul total. While Mississippi State likes a physical game, sometimes their physicality came to bite them, as Tennessee would draw them in, then kick it out to a wide-open shooter. The Bulldogs were also out-rebounded by the Volunteers 35-25. All in all, this is definitely a learning experience for this Bulldog squad as they look to bring back some momentum towards the end of the year.
The Bulldogs have this Thursday off, as they are the only squad in the SEC to not have a bye session thus far in the SEC season. They will return home, though, to face off against the #12 Texas A&M Aggies this Sunday. That game is set for a 2:00 PM CST tip on SEC Network. This will be a personal fight for Vic Schaefer as he watches his ranked former team face off against his ranked team. Let’s pack the Hump, and get it rocking for these ladies as they fight for Mississippi State.