The Mississippi State Bulldogs entered Saturday’s basketball game with plans to protect their house.
The matchup against Troy provided the Bulldogs that opportunity and they took advantage by winning an 80-62 contest.
After managing a comeback win on Friday, MSU’s women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer was impressed with how his team came out the gates fighting.
“I think you have to be happy the way we played (Saturday night),” Schaefer said. “It was certainly the best first 20 minutes we’ve played all year. We came out and threw the first punch, the next punch and the next punch.”
With 5 minutes left in the first half, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 24 points. Engaging in a 9-0 run, they pushed the score from 35-20 to 44-20.
Martha Alwal, Carnecia Williams and Katia May all posted jumpers during the run, while teammate Darriel Gaynor heard string music from behind the arc.
MSU shot 48.6 percent from the field and was 10-of-14 from the charity stripe as it enjoyed a 48-27 lead following the first 20 minutes of action.
Coming out of the half, the Bulldogs scored the first six points before allowing Troy’s Sarah McAppion a successful layup.
Though the team only outscored its opponent by one during the second half, MSU never allowed Troy to get back in the ballgame.
The Bulldogs performance in protecting its lead left a big impression on their coach.
“We teach our kids that they have to protect their kitchen, not letting someone come and take your cookies,” Schaefer said. “We had some really good execution (Saturday night) and I’m really pleased with the effort from our kids. I think we did well in the press and we rebounded about as well as we have all year.”
MSU’s post players led the way as the pair of forwards both found themselves with double-doubles.
Alwal finished her night as the team’s leader. Going 8-for-13 from the floor, the sophomore posted 21 points and provided 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
“She goes and gets a double-double, has 21 and 12, and she’s so silent,” Schaefer said. “She’s got a tremendous upside, but I still don’t think she’s going hard enough. I was really proud of her (Saturday night), though. I wanted her to know how happy I was of her (Saturday night) that she went out and did what I’ve been wanting her to do the past couple of months.”
Williams was the second MSU player with a double-double. Finishing right on Alwal’s heels, Williams pulled down 10 rebounds and went 10-for-13 from field goal range for 20 points.
“She’s put back-to-back games together,” Schaefer said. “We haven’t had a kid stack two games all year. You’ve got to take your hat off to that kid, she keeps getting dinged up on her knee and she bounces back with a lot of toughness.
“If we can just keep her from getting her knee dinged, she gets more confident and she plays harder when she’s not protecting herself. She’s a great help defender and she’s probably in the best shape of her life right now.”
Senior Darriel Gaynor rounded out MSU’s top three scorers. Going 5-for-9 from behind the arc, Gaynor ended her night with 15 points.
With the win, MSU moves to 8-5 overall, while Troy fell to 3-9.
The Bulldogs get some time off to enjoy the New Year Day holiday as they prepare to open Southeastern Conference play on Thursday when the team travels to Nashville to face Vanderbilt.