LAARNE, Belgium – Travel difficulties didn’t hinder the Mississippi State women’s basketball team on the court Wednesday as it opened its European tour with a dominant 122-56 win against Sparta Laarne in Laarne, Belgium.
The Bulldogs used solid pressure defense to open a 22-point first-quarter lead and never looked back.
“It was pretty encouraging. We shot the ball well from range in a gym we’ve never been in. We had an hour to get ready, and I was proud of our energy and effort,” Vic Schaefer said. “We were really active defensively and made open shots. I thought we created opportunities for each other and played well together.”
Freshman Blair Schaefer sparked the first half with 15 points, while sophomore Breanna Richardson tallied 15 fourth-quarter points to finish with a game-high 19.
Chinwe Okorie had an outstanding outing, registering a double-double with 13 points and 17 rebounds.
All 14 Bulldogs scored in the game, with Victoria Vivians (11 points), Dominique Dillingham (10 points) and Morgan William (10 points) joining Richardson, Schaefer and Okorie in double figures.
It was an outstanding effort considering the team took the court just a couple hours after landing in Brussels. A flight cancellation and an emergency landing Halifax, Nova Scotia, put the Bulldogs arriving at 3 p.m. local time. The team loaded the bus and headed straight to Sportcentrum Veldmeers for the 7:30 p.m. contest against Sparta Laarne.
The Bulldogs ran the lead to 18-8 behind three offensive rebounds and eight points from Okorie. Sparta Laarne was forced to call timeout with three minutes remaining in the first quarter after Ketara Chapel buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
Minutes later Blair Schaefer found the ball in the left corner and knocked down the first of three triples that put State in front 24-10.
The Bulldogs took a 32-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter thanks to a free throw and basket from Chapel and eight points from Schaefer, two 3-pointers and a runner at the buzzer.
Sparta Laarne opened the second quarter with 3-pointers from Kim Beeckmans and Fara De Troyer, but State answered with another push that ran the lead to 54-22 with 2:11 to go before halftime.
Schaefer sparked the push with seven points, while LaKaris Salter added five.
Kendra Grant buried a jumper and Okorie put in her 10th point of the first half as the Bulldogs took a commanding 60-23 halftime lead.
Vivians did the damage in the third quarter, scoring nine of her points in the stanza as MSU opened an 85-38 advantage.
Richardson then took over in the fourth quarter, including a run of nine-straight points that put Mississippi State over the century mark.
Beeckmans paced the host squad with 11 points.
The Bulldogs will tour Ghent Thursday before returning to action that night against Waregem Basket in a 12:15 p.m. CST tip.