PARIS – Mississippi State took its success in Belgium to Paris Friday as the Bulldogs used a stellar second half performance to defeat AMW Select 74-52.
Playing against a big, athletic professional all-star squad, freshman Victoria Vivians netted 10 of her 15 points in the first half en route to a game-high 15. Vivians, who knocked down three 3-pointers in the game, was selected the Most Valuable Player.
“Victoria has settled in and played better the last couple of ball games,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Victoria is Victoria. She has a way she plays. We realized that when we recruited her and we’re not going to try and change her. She’s a confident and skilled player.”
MSU struggled to convert from the field in the opening quarter, but trailed only 19-17 thanks to going 13-of-16 from the free throw line. Martha Alwal opened the scoring with a jumper 30 seconds after opening tip, but the Bulldogs didn’t get another field goal until Vivians hit her first basket with 2:40 to go.
During that stretch, though, MSU kept it a nip-and-tuck game with free throws from Carter, Richardson, Morgan William and Vivians.
AMW Select extended the lead to 21-17 at the start of the second quarter, but Chinwe Okorie put in back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 21-21 with 6:16 to play. Two Carter free throws put the Dawgs in front by two with 6:05 to go before half.
Okorie finished the half and the game with eight points.
State built a 27-23 advantage with an Okorie basket with 2:45 to go in the second quarter, but AMW Select cut it back to a basket with a jumper from Magali Mendy.
Vivans then took over for the Bulldogs, draining a pair of 3-pointers between a Morgan William free throw to give MSU a 34-30 lead at halftime.
“My kids like to play the physical type of game we played tonight. I’m really proud of how physical we were and how we answered how physical they played. Martha wanted to be in the middle of it, and that’s where Chinwe thrives,” Schaefer said. “I thought our guards handled the physical nature of the game very well. I am really proud of how our team tonight because we competed and wouldn’t back down.”
Victoria Majekodunmi opened the second half with back-to-back buckets to tie the contest. Free throws from Sara Ousfer and another basket by Majekodunmi made it a 38-36 game, but State responded with an 8-0 run while holding AMW Select without a point for just over three minutes.
AMW Select cut the lead to 50-47 as it opened the fourth quarter with consecutive buckets from Ramata Diakite.
The Bulldogs increased the lead back to five at 52-47 as James got a steal and found Vivians for a layin with 6:45 to play.
Vivans made it a 55-47 contest seconds later as she drained her third 3-pointer of the game with 6:09 to go. After Ousfar trimmed the lead to six, William hit a jumper from the free-throw line and Blair Schaefer drained a triple to give MSU its largest lead of the game at 60-49 with 3:14 to play.
James created another turnover and made a nice pass to Carter to extend the lead to 62-49 with just over two minutes to play.
After Carter made one of two free throws following an intentional foul, the Bulldogs pushed the lead to 20 with consecutive 3-pointers from James and Schaefer.
Carter added two more free throws and Schaefer capped the scoring with her third 3-pointer of the second half.
Aida Fall paced AMW Select with 12 points.The Bulldogs will tour Paris Saturday before heading to Lyon on Sunday. State will remain in Lyon Monday to close the exhibition tour against Union Basket at 1 p.m. CST.