After competing for a half, Mississippi State struggled in the second half. No. 21 Texas A&M opened the second half with a 10-0 run and cruised to a 73-35 victory.
With the win, Texas A&M improved to 15-4 overall and 5-0 in league play. MSU fell to 14-5 and 1-4.
“Certainly disappointed, it is hard to believe we could play as well against Tennessee (in a 67-63 loss Thursday night),” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Sometimes, when you have the youth, inexperience and immaturity that we have, those things show up. All three things reared their ugly heads today against a really good Texas A&M basketball team today.”
Despite struggles from the field, MSU hung tough through the opening 20 minutes of play. Martha Alwal established a presence underneath and the Bulldogs also got a solid lift from Dominique Dillingham and Katia May.
The Bulldogs only held one lead but were down three points at 9-6 and again at 15-12. The Aggies responded with the game’s next seven points to create some separation.
In the opening half, MSU shot 21.2 percent from the field but the hustle and strong play on the offensive boards meant only a 33-20 deficit at the break.
Texas A&M quickly created separation by scoring the first 10 points of the game’s final half. One the premier defensive teams in the league, A&M held MSU to five field goals in the second half and no 3-point baskets for the contest. The Aggies were credited with 13 blocked shots.
“We got the ball inside early and often,” Schaefer said. “I thought we got good shots. We just couldn’t make shots. I am disappointed, but there is a bigger picture than one game today.”
The victory spoiled the homecoming of Schaefer, a longtime assistant with Texas A&M.
“It was different being on the other bench,” Schaefer said. “There are a lot of good folks here. The community is what is special. The people that were here today who embraced my family are special people.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 12 of 59 shots from the field (20.3 percent), 0 of 5 shots from 3-point range (0 percent) and 11 of 18 shots from the foul line (61.1 percent). The Aggies hit 27 of 51 shots from the field (52.9 percent), 1 of 6 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent) and 18 of 28 shots from the foul line (64.3 percent).
Texas A&M held a 51-29 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 15 turnovers, while the Aggies had 18 assists and 15 turnovers.
May led MSU with eight points, while Breanna Richardson had a team-high seven rebounds.
Texas A&M received 16 points from Courtney Walker, 15 points from Courtney Williams and 14 points from Achiri Ade. Karla Gilbert had a game-high 10 rebounds.
MSU remains on the road for its next contest at arch-rival Ole Miss Thursday night. The Bulldogs and Rebels tip at 6 p.m. from the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford.
Before heading to Oxford for Thursday’s game, Mississippi State will host its second January luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Mize Pavilion. Cost is $12 per person and fans can RSVP by calling (662) 325-0198 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.