Execution And Effort Lead To Bulldog Win
Five minutes into the contest the Bulldogs led 6-2, although both teams were having difficulties with holding onto the basketball. MSU's Jerica James helped push the team out to a 10-6 lead. Their 10-6 lead was followed by a 7-1 run thanks to several set plays that extended the lead to 17-7 midway through the first half. Senior guard Darriel Gaynor had Mississippi State's first three-pointer of the game, giving her team a 22-9 lead with 5:46 in left in the half. Arkansas went on a 5-0 run, cutting the Bulldogs lead to 22-14. The Bulldogs scored the last two points of the half and led 24-14 at the half. "They really took a gameplan and really caused a lot of problems for Arkansas with their intensity and on the ball pressure," Coach Schaefer said. The Razorbacks came out fighting in the second half, cutting the lead to five points in the three minutes of the half. A minute later, Gaynor put up her second three of the day to push the lead out to eight. Mentally the Bulldogs looked like a totally different team than the first half squad. The execution they had demonstrated was now lacking, and Arkansas pulled within two with 11:50 to go. The Razorbacks eventually tied it up at 33. However, MSU's Carnecia Williams answered with much need post play around the ten minute mark. Shortly after, Arkansas got their first lead of the night, pulling ahead of the Bulldogs 37-35. Williams made another critical play, shooting a pull up jumper to tie the game at 37 with seven minutes to play. Mississippi State led 42-40 with just under four minutes left in regulation. Mississippi State created a crucial turnover thanks to an excellent defensive stop at the one minute mark which helped them maintain their 46-44 lead. The Bulldogs couldn't take advantage of the turnover on the offensive end of the court and Arkansas had the ball with eighteen seconds left in the contest. Mississippi State stalled the Razorbacks' offense, and created a steal that gave them the ball with seven seconds left on the clock. Kendra Grant was fouled on the inbound and sunk one out of two free throws. Arkansas grabbed the rebound on the second shot but couldn't convert a desperation shot. Coach Vic Schaefer met and embraced his entire team once the clock struck zero. In an "off night" according to Coach Schafer, Martha Alwal tallied a double-double, scoring 14 points and 12 rebounds. In addition, Mississippi State shot 16-47 (34%) from the field. They were also 12-18 (66.7%) from the charity strike. The Bulldogs held the Razorbacks to 5-24 (21%) shooting in the first half and 17-53 (32.1%) for the game. The Razorbacks made no three pointers. "I'm so proud of my kids for how hard they competed today," said Schaefer. "They played their guts out. We gave up the lead but got three stops in a row and three shots in a row. When I talk about toughness, today is what I'm talking about. We've bounced back from a lopsided defeat and they've come back, listened and taken a gameplan and won. They've done it two times now." Carew Ferguson is a feature writer for the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.