STARKVILLE, Miss. - Carnecia Williams scored a career-best 26 points, and sophomore Kendra Grant notched her first double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds as Mississippi State defeated Savannah State 70-55 Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
Williams and Grant paced an MSU squad that shot a season-best 48.1-percent from the floor to win at home for the third time this season.
"I am so proud of Carnecia and Kendra," head coach Vic Schaefer said. "They played with the heart and the desire that you want every time you step on the court. We won the game because of those two. When you only have 30 chances to play, you should take advantage of every opportunity when the lights come on. I thought they really did that tonight."
Grant's 15-rebound effort was six better than her previous high of nine set in the season-opening win against Houston.
"Coach Schaefer is big on defense and rebounding, so he got onto us hard at halftime about rebounding and defensive effort," Grant said. "I just took it to heart to be that defensive spark that we needed."
The Bulldogs (3-4) shot 56 percent from the field in the opening half but were plagued by 13 turnovers. Savannah State (2-4) held a handful of leads, none larger than three points. The Lady Tigers led 22-21 before MSU answered with seven-straight points.
After SSU came right back with seven points of its own, MSU scored the final seven points of the opening half to take a 35-29 lead to the intermission.
"I thought our transition offense was really good," Schaefer said. "It is something that we had seen on film, so it was in the scouting report. We were able to get some really good baskets off our break. I thought our point guard play was really good in the second half."
The Bulldogs extended the run to 14-0, thanks to the first seven points of the second half. Carnecia Williams had six points during that opening burst. The Maroon and White continued the defensive pressure to keep a comfortable lead.
"It's very exciting," Carnecia Williams said of her career-best outing. "It's what I've been waiting on, to be a part offensively and help the team out. That has been what I have been working on. I've put in a lot of work after practice just working on my offense."
MSU led 54-42 with 9:27 remaining after four-straight points from Grant. The duo of Carnecia Williams and Sherise Williams took over the contest, scoring 10 of the squad's next 14 points as the lead ballooned to 68-51 with 1:11 remaining.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 26 of 54 shots from the field (48.1 percent), 0 of 6 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 18 of 26 shots from the foul line (69.2 percent). The Lady Tigers hit 18 of 49 shots from the field (36.7 percent), 0 of 4 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 19 of 28 shots from the free throw line (67.9 percent).
MSU held a 43-23 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs matched a season high with 16 assists. The Lady Tigers had five assists and 17 turnovers.MSU faces its first true road test Saturday, traveling to Southern Mississippi for a 4 p.m. tip.