MSU's lone senior Darriel Gaynor celebrates senior night after a win over Georgia. (Photo by Jason Edwards, SDN)
The Mississippi Stateâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball team pulled off a feat not achieved by the team in three years on Thursday evening.
In 2010, the Bulldogs defeated Ohio State in the NCAA tournament and since that time, the program has not been able to recreate the feat.
On Thursday, MSU faced off against the visiting No. 11 Bulldogs of Georgia. As the buzzer sounded, MSU had achieved its goal knocking off Georgia 50-38.
After the game a very emotional State coach Vic Schaefer spoke on what this victory means for his team.
â€śTo see these kids go through what they have gone through this year, to know how committed theyâ€™ve been all year long, just seeing them rewarded for their hard work and dedication and being good Bulldogs, itâ€™s why you coach," Schaefer said. "It's why we do what we do.
â€śI am so proud of my kids and their effort against a great team. You have no idea how hard it is to hold (Georgia). You have to play your absolute heart and guts out to do that. Iâ€™m just so proud and so pleased for my kids.â€ť
With the win, MSU improved to 13-15 overall and 5-10 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia slipped to 23-5 overall and 11-4 in the SEC.
State established its prowess early as it posted the first 10 points of the contest before allowing Georgia to score with 16:30 remaining in the half.Â The lead was extended to 15 points minutes later after a series of successful shots compliments of Martha Alwal, Darriel Gaynor, and Carnecia Williams.
MSU maintained its 15-point lead as a jumper from Alwal pushed the score to 24-9 with 7:43 left to play before halftime.
Georgia responded by holding MSU scoreless and scoring the last 13 points of the half to close within two, but the team ran out of steam allowing State to carry a 24-22 advantage into intermission.
Coming out of the break, MSU pushed its lead out to five at 27-22 on back-to-back scores from Williams.
Three-straight scores from Georgia took the contest back to two points as State led 27-25 with 18:02 remaining.
Competition continued on the back and forth path before Kendra Grant went on a scoring spree at the charity stripe to end the game in MSUâ€™s favor.
Following her four consecutive free throws, Grant finished her night as MSUâ€™s leader in scoring with 13 points.
Alwal was right on her teammates' heels, concluding her night with a double-double as she poured in 12 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
Thursday night was also senior night and it was the last time Gaynor would compete at Humphrey Coliseum.
As she celebrated her final time on MSUâ€™s hardwood, Gaynor went 4-of-13 to conclude the night with 11 points.
â€śI couldnâ€™t be happier for Darriel Gaynor on senior night,â€ť Schaefer said. â€śWhat a way to send her out (Thursday night) on her night and our kids laid it on the line for her (Thursday night).
â€śIâ€™m her third coach in five years, (and) thatâ€™s hard on anybody. To see her (Thursday night) in this game, in this moment (and) do what she did, to play 40 minutes, her family is here from Las Vegas, that is so gratifying. There is so much satisfaction as a coach to know that she went out the way you are supposed to go out â€“ over a top 20 team with a victory. Itâ€™s the way it should end.â€ť
Schaefer was proud of the way the night ended for Gaynor and the senior was just as excited about the nightâ€™s conclusion and what it means to her as a Mississippi State Bulldog.
â€śItâ€™s everything to me,â€ť Gaynor said. â€śIâ€™m just so happy and so proud of my team. This is definitely one of my most memorable moments at Mississippi State.â€ť
Georgia received 10 points from Anne Marie Armstrong and nine from Shacobia Barbee.
For the contest, MSU hit 15-of-48 from the field (31 percent), 6-18 from behind the arc (33 percent) and shot 82 pecent from the free-throw line.
Georgia shot 18 percent from the field and was 2-of-22 from 3-point range, while shooting 67 percent from the charity stripe.
MSU concludes the regular season Sunday when the team travels to Auburn for a 2 p.m. contest.
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