Bulldogs Fall To No. 16 Texas A&M
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A return home was not enough to lift the Mississippi State women's basketball team to victory Thursday night.
The Bulldogs competed hard but came up short in an 81-33 Southeastern Conference defeat to No. 16 Texas A&M at the Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU fell to 8-11 overall and 0-6 in league play, while Texas A&M improved to 15-5 and 5-1. The contest was a reunion of Texas A&M head coach and Gary Blair and MSU head coach of Vic Schaefer, who served the previous nine seasons as associate head coach with the Aggies.
"It was a great story," Schaefer said. "I wish we could have played a little better. We played a great team. They are so under-rated. I think they are quite honestly a Top 5 team. They have size, quickness and they are playing a high confidence level.
"I fully expect them to run the table and go a long, long way in the NCAA tournament."
The Aggies opened the contest with six straight points. Texas A&M extended the lead to 21-10 on a jumper by Kristi Bellock with 11:38 remaining in the first half.
A 6-0 run extended the lead to 27-12. After Kendra Grant brought the Bulldogs within 14 at 33-19, Texas A&M scored the first half's final six points for a 39-19 halftime lead.
In the opening half, Texas A&M shot 65.4 percent from the field, hitting 17 of 28 shots. The Aggies recorded 10 steals in that half and forced 11 turnovers.
The Aggies scored the second half's first 15 points as an eventual 21-0 run was halted by two Martha Alwal free throws with 14:36 left in regulation.
An 8-0 run allowed Texas A&M to open a 62-21 advantage with 12:03 left in regulation.
"(Texas A&M is) very talented at every position," Grant said. "At the same time, I feel like we have some potential too. We just have to lock into it."
In the second half, the Bulldogs were limited to four field goals and five free throws.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 12 of 45 shots from the field (26.7 percent), 2 of 5 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 7 of 10 shots from the foul line (70.0 percent). The Aggies hit 29 of 48 shots from the field (60.4 percent), 4 of 10 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 19 of 25 shots from the field (76.0 percent).
Texas A&M held a 31-28 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had four assists and 23 turnovers, while the Aggies had 19 assists and 10 turnovers.
"We had so many open looks and the shots didn't fall," Schaefer said. "We lost some confidence early and it got away from us rather quickly."
Texas A&M received 18 points from Bellock, 15 points from Adrienne Pratcher and 13 points from Kelsey Bone.
MSU stays at home Sunday, hosting in-state rival Ole Miss at 2 p.m. Fans will have the opportunity to meet the Bulldogs during a postgame courtside autograph session.