Rally Dogs: Vivians and company help MSU defeat Texas A&M

Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer celebrates with his players on Sunday.
The Associated Press
The Associated Press

No. 3 Mississippi State and No. 23 Texas A&M traded eight leads Sunday, leaving Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer worn but pleased with the end result.
"That was a heck of a ball game, and you hate somebody had to come out on the short end," Schaefer said. "There were a lot of runs in this game, we just happened to get the last one."
The Bulldogs did indeed, as Victoria Vivians scored 25 points and Mississippi State avoided an upset with a 72-67 victory. With South Carolina's loss to Missouri earlier in the day, the Bulldogs now hold first place in the Southeastern Conference all to themselves with a 13-1 league record.
The Aggies (19-8, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) led by seven points in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs (27-1) charged back, highlighted by Teaira McCowan's two field goals in the paint in the last 1:17.
McCowan had 16 points for the Bulldogs, and her game-high 13 rebounds were nearly twice as many as anyone else on the court.
"She was really special (Sunday)," Schaefer said about McCowan, who grew up close to College Station in Brenham.
A&M had a seven-point lead with seven minutes remaining, but Vivians scored 10 points the rest of the way to key the comeback.
"I took a couple of bad shots in the first half and wasn't being aggressive like coach told us to be," Vivians said. "In the second half I got back on the right track, and started being more aggressive."
The Aggies lost despite making all seven of their 3-point attempts, including 4 for 4 by Danni Williams and 3 for 3 by Taylor Cooper. Williams led the Aggies with 23 points.
A&M held a 65-63 lead with 2:18 remaining when MSU's Ketara Chapel coolly sank a 3-pointer from the left side of the key, for a 66-65 Bulldogs lead on her only attempt of the night.
"There was no bigger shot than what Ketara made in front of our bench," Schaefer said.
Mississippi State's reserves outscored their A&M counterparts 28-0, and the Bulldogs held a 34-22 advantage in the paint.
"I told my kids, the effort was great (but) I'm not in this thing for moral victories," A&M coach Gary Blair said. "We were up seven points, and we're supposed to win at home. That's the bottom line: We're supposed to win at home."
Schaefer spent 15 years with Blair as an assistant, the first six at Arkansas and the last nine at A&M, prior to taking the MSU rebuilding job five years ago.
"They can do a lot of damage in the postseason," Schaefer said about the Aggies. "I certainly don't want to play them again."