MSU's Schaefer sees bench answer bell against South Carolina

Bre'Amber Scott (23) leads the break for Mississippi State.

Sports Editor

Mississippi State head coach Vic Schaefer saw his players come in and “answered the bell” on Thursday night.

The production of the bench was one of the main factors as to why the Bulldogs were able to defeat the South Carolina Gamecocks 89-74 at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU outscored South Carolina 20-12 off the bench and Schaefer got exactly what he needed to win a key Southeastern Conference outing.

Schaefer felt like the players off the bench “grew up a little bit” and said as a coach, “he couldn’t be prouder.”

The stage was not too big for Bre’Amber Scott, Myah Taylor, Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Jessika Carter.

“That’s a big moment out there,” Schaefer said. “It’s a big game in our league. It’s an incredible crowd on a national stage. You are putting kids in that moment. I’ve had to be careful trying to build them up and into what they can do what they did (Thursday night). It’s fragile and really hard.

“I know everyone thinks they should play more and they feel they should play more. We’ve had some heartache with some of those kids in previous games. I’m constantly coaching them, teaching them, begging them and imploring them in practice about things they’ve got to do better because when you get in that moment, you’ve got to play and you’ve got to function. I thought those kids responded so well (Thursday night).”

One of the main contributors in a reserve role came in the form of Scott.

When starter Chloe Bibby went down with a lower body injury, Scott checked into the game with 9:24 left in the first quarter and gave the Bulldogs an immediate spark by grabbing a defensive rebound.
Scott finished by scoring an SEC-high 11 points in 27 minutes. It was the 15th time this season Scott had scored in double digits.

It was the production from players like Scott that made a difference in the mind of South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.

She was not surprised.

“She did what she normally does,” Staley said of Scott. “She hit corner 3s and was a direct line drive to the basket. When her number was called, she stepped up. That’s what you want from players.”
Schaefer did not see what led to Bibby’s injury and did not know the extent after the game.

All he knows is it’s one of the toughest things to see as a coach.

“Chloe Bibby has worked her tail off to be where she is,” Schaefer said. “To see that happen to her just rips your guts out and rips your heart out. It’s very difficult.”

As tough as it was to see Bibby in obvious pain, Schaefer was happy to see the other Bulldogs handle the adversity in a positive manner.

Along with Scott, Schaefer said Taylor gave MSU “some big minutes” at point guard in spelling senior Jazzmun Holmes.

Taylor scored four points and ran the offense well in her 5 minutes on the floor.

Holmes said the reserves deserved to be involved in the action.

“Our bench had been practicing and playing very well,” Holmes said. “I think that is a big step for us just because we can have consistency through substitutions and that’s always what coach wants to do.”