STARKVILLE, Miss. – For the Mississippi State women’s basketball team, it was a Super Sunday indeed.
Thanks to balanced scoring and a tough effort on the defensive end, Mississippi State knocked off Georgia 80-67 in a Southeastern Conference contest played in the Humphrey Coliseum.
Head coach Vic Schaefer’s squad won back-to-back conference home games to improve to 16-7 overall and 3-6 in conference play. Georgia fell to 15-7 and 3-6.
State has won three of its last four in the series at home, and claimed its first back-to-back wins against UGA since 2010. Mississippi State’s 80 points was the most it has scored in the series since the 2004 campaign.
“We executed and were committed to playing together today,” MSU senior guard Katia May said. “On the defensive end, we played well. On offense, we did a good job of getting the ball to the open person. I felt good shooting in pre-game, so I tried to practice at places on the floor where I could get open.”
May notched a new career high on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range. When May was forced to the bench with foul trouble, Jerica James provided 14 strong minutes off the bench, hitting a pair critical 3-point baskets as well. The duo had seven assists and six steals from the point guard position.
“Katia was playing great,” James said. “It was my job to come in and keep leading the team. I had to make sure we weren’t making mistakes. The team was ready to go and get the win. I am a junior, so (entering) a game like this is not that big a deal. It’s the SEC where everybody is bigger and stronger.
“You have to raise your game to match that play.”
Mississippi State raised its game and put together one of its best first halves of the season. In the opening stanza, Alwal, May and Richardson all reached double figures. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the field in the first half, while also hitting its first 13 free throws of the contest.
MSU quickly built a 17-9 lead on a jumper by Dominique Dillingham with 12:29 left in the half. The lead grew to 12 at 23-11 after a 3-point play by Alwal.
The host Bulldogs stretched the lead to 17 at 42-25 with 2:40 left in the opening half, but Georgia ended the half with a 12-2 run to bring the deficit to 44-37 at halftime.
“I am really proud of my kids,” Schaefer said. “Give the Good Lord credit for the effort and energy those kids played with. Georgia is really good. They have a Hall of Fame coach. I love how we competed today. We threw the first punch and I thought we kept punching.
“Every kid on this team today made a play when we needed it most.”
In the second half, Georgia closed within 46-41 less than two minutes into the half. Mississippi State responded with the game’s next eight points, including a 3-pointer by James for a 54-41 lead with 15:49 left in the contest.
Georgia closed within seven twice but State had the answer time and time again.
A critical 3-pointer by Kendra Grant ran the lead to 71-61 with 3:35 left. Georgia scored on its next two possessions but got no closer.
“Savannah (Carter) and Dominique (Dillingham) were playing so hard,” Grant said. “It was my job to keep that up. I wanted to come in and keep things going.”
For the contest, the Maroon & White shot 51.9 percent (27 of 52) from the field, its best in SEC play this season, and hit 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range (66.7 percent) and 20 of 26 shots from the foul line (76.9 percent). State's 20 free throws gave the team a school-record 481 for the season, eclipsing the previous best set in 2000.
Georgia connected on 25 of 57 shots from the field (43.9 percent), 3 of 9 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 15 of 15 shots from the foul line (93.3 percent).
Georgia held a 31-29 rebounding advantage. MSU had 16 assists and 17 turnovers, while Georgia had 11 assists and 21 turnovers.
MSU will host No. 7/8 South Carolina Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in the Humphrey Coliseum.