MSU women open SEC play with road win at Georgia

MSU (15-0) won its fourth-straight conference opener.

Posted: Dec. 31, 2017 10:45 PM
Updated: Dec. 31, 2017 10:45 PM

ATHENS, Ga. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - No. 5/3 Mississippi State dialed long distance for a convincing 86-62 win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball opener for both teams played Sunday afternoon at Stegeman Coliseum.

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MSU (15-0) won its fourth-straight conference opener, while recording its largest margin of victory ever in Athens in the program’s fourth victory there. It was the first 20-plus point win over Georgia since 1978. MSU won on this floor for the first time since 2002.

“Really proud of my basketball team,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “To play the way we played both ends of the floor, I couldn’t be prouder. In my 21 trips here (at three combined schools), I had never won here, so it feels good to walk off that floor with a victory. Proud of our kids. We executed offensively in the third quarter.

“In the first half, we were decent. We shared the ball and got good looks. We got a bunch of good looks and I thought the kids really responded.”

Teaira McCowan notched her 21st career double-double to help lead the Maroon and White. McCowan had 26 points and 13 rebounds. Victoria Vivians added 20 points, while Roshunda Johnson added 16 points.

After missing its first seven 3-point shot attempts, MSU rallied to hit 11 of the final 22 – the second-most makes in a game this season. Overall, MSU shot 49.2 percent from the field while topping the 75-point mark for the ninth-straight game.

The Maroon and White took the lead for good on a layup by McCowan in the closing seconds of the first quarter, giving MSU a 16-14 lead. The Bulldogs then scored the first five points of the second quarter to stretch the lead to 21-14.

A 6-0 run was capped by a 3-pointer from Johnson for a 27-16 lead. The lead would grow to as many as 14 before MSU settled for a 37-27 halftime lead.

Johnson later hit back-to-back 3-pointers as a 10-0 run pushed the Maroon and White lead to 61-35 with 2:35 left third quarter.

“Teaira was special again today, and she did it against a really good team,” Schaefer said. “When you have the shooters we have and the center piece inside, we are a hard basketball team to guard.”

For the contest, MSU hit 32 of 65 shots from the field (49.2 percent), 11 of 29 shots from 3-point range (37.9 percent) and 11 of 18 shots from the foul line (61.1 percent). Georgia hit 27 of 56 shots from the field (48.2 percent), 3 of 8 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 5 of 10 shots from the foul line (50.0 percent).

Georgia held a 35-33 rebounding advantage. MSU had 19 assists and 10 turnovers, while Georgia had 14 assists and 20 turnovers.

Georgia (12-2) received 13 points from Caliya Robinson and 10 points from Mackenzie Engram.

MSU will usher in the New Year with a Thursday night contest against Arkansas. The SEC home opener is set for an 8 p.m. start in the Humphrey Coliseum and will be shown nationally on the SEC Network.

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