The Mississippi State Bulldogs looked to a senior down the stretch when they needed a victory Sunday afternoon.
Darriel Gaynor scored all nine of her points in the second half as MSU won 67-57 in women's basketball action at Humphrey Coliseum.
After being shut out in the first half with only 6 minutes of play, Gaynor stepped up when her team needed scoring.
"Coach (Vic Schaefer) has been challenging me," Gaynor said. "I didn't play a lot in the Florida Atlantic game and didn't play as well in the Southern Miss game. I just didn't do the things a senior leader needs to do, so he got my attention to play harder and rebound.
"As far as the game goes, I missed some shots in the first half and do other things, so in the second half, I got to the free-throw line and did some other things."
With the Bulldogs trailing 49-48 in the second half, Gaynor hit a pair of free throws to give the home team a 50-49 advantage at the 8:50 mark. Gaynor had a basket and another free throw to help extend the margin to 53-49.
Florida A&M worked the game back to a 55-55 tie, Gaynor hit two more from the charity stripe to put MSU back on top and started an 8-0 run.
Gaynor had three steals, four assists and three rebounds to go along with her point total.
The two area that Schaefer especially singled out in Gaynor's game was the 7-of-7 shots Gaynor hit from the line and no turnovers.
"I liked her stat line," Schaefer said. "She had a couple of big steals and three for the game and zero turnovers. That's what I liked.
"She had a wide-open shot and just missed it, then she turned her back to the ball and lost her girl. That's just a lack of focus. You just can't take plays off."
Sherise Williams, who had a career-high 21 points, hit back-to-back buckets to give the Bulldogs a 28-25 lead with 3:34 remaining in the first half.
MSU held a 32-30 lead at halftime behind the 13 points of Williams.
"I think I'm getting better, but as a freshman I've still got a lot of work to do," Williams said.
Grant finished with 12 points, but Schaefer said it did not appear to be one of her better games.
"She looked tired and just didn't play well," Schaefer said. "She shot 4 of 11 (from the field) and had four turnovers in 37 minutes. I may be practicing her too hard and playing her too much. She just looks tired and may feel like she has to carry the load sometimes. It's something we just have to figure out. She is a competitor and does hate to make a mistake. She's special."
Martha Alwal just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Former West Oktibbeha High School player Shamia Robinson entered the game with 2:02 left in the first half. Robinson missed the first nine games of the season due to injury.
She scored in the second half to give MSU a 48-47 advantage with 9:30 left in the game.
"I was encouraged," Schaefer said about the effort he got out of Robinson. "She just hasn't practiced much. She did some good things, but she gave up a layup and had a couple of bad decisions offensively. She just needs to get more comfortable in playing as many of our players do. She just needs experience and that's practice and playing experience."
The Bulldogs evened their overall record to 5-5 and host Jacksonville State Thursday.
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