The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

New lineup paves way for first round win

In the first round of the NCAA tournament, No. 2 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs captured a 110-69 win against No. 15 Troy University to advance to the second round.

Head Coach Vic Schaefer did not start the usual senior team to begin the game.  Instead, Blair Schaefer, Teaira McCowan, Morgan William, Ketera Chapel and Roshunda Johnson started to begin the road to Dallas, Texas.

Troy’s Head Coach Chanda Rigby said the change did not match the Trojan’s initial approach to the usual five starting players the team were projecting.

“We were going to do a man-to-man special, and deny the ball to their best player,” Coach Rigby said. “We had no way of knowing who it would be coming out and it changed what we were doing. We changed our game plan and the beginning and it should’ve stayed the same.”

The starting five still carried MSU’s powerful dynamic with unusual starter, Schaefer, beginning the game with 11 of the 27 first quarter points for the Bulldogs. Schaefer gave a star-studded performance on both sides, forcing Troy turnovers and completing them with her own set of points down the stretch.

Schaefer finished the game with a career-high 21 points and Johnson with 15 points. The duo was responsible for 36 of the 57 points MSU scored.Schaefer said the chemistry between the team is rooted within every player, no matter the five on the floor.

“We’ve been working all week together and so we got our chemistry right off the bat and dominated this week in practice,” Schaefer said. “We realized what we can do together is really special and we both have a good feeling of where we are on the floor.”

The new lineup rotation helped the Bulldogs retain energy and continue to pressure Troy. With the split up in the usual starting five, Schaefer checked in guards Vivians, Johnson and Richardson, simultaneously, to keep the Bulldogs shooting on the perimeter and Bulldog center McCowan to keep Troy to 26 points in the paint.

With the immediate lineup change from MSU and a continuous rhythm intact, the team’s stamina and quickness stunned the Trojans as they were lackluster during the second quarter and lasted until mid-third quarter. At that time, Victoria Vivians entered the game and contributed to the 26-9 run Mississippi State completed before the end of the first half. She ended the game with 13 points and six rebounds. Coach Schaefer said he believes Vivians will always be ready to compete under any circumstances.

“Victoria’s fine,” Coach Schaefer said. “She’s going to be ready when the lights come on. She’s been in that environment and that game way too many times to not embrace that opportunity. I don’t worry about her as much as everybody else seems to.”

While developing offensively, McCowan’s defensive performance stood in place of the absence. She collected seven rebounds in the first quarter and had three blocks to keep the Trojans from scoring.

“Going into the game today, we knew we had to box this team out.” McCowan said. “This is a team that goes to the boards really hard so we had to box out and go get the rebound.”

McCowan began scoring more in the second half to finish the game with nine points, four blocks and 13 of the team’s 61 rebounds.

The Trojans left the first half shooting 30% with the Bulldogs in a tremendous 56-27 lead.  They finished the game completing 33% of their shots. With good shooting and open looks for the Bulldogs, the team shot 51% for the game while the Trojans struggled to get successful looks from the constant pressure the Bulldogs established. Overall, the 110 points Mississippi State scored were spread evenly amongst the roster. Five Bulldogs scored double digit numbers, like freshman Ameshya Williams, who scored 15 points.

Hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament, the home court advantage created the familiar atmosphere for the Bulldogs with a crowd of 5572. Coach Schaefer felt it was great for an opportunity to redeem themselves from the upsetting 84-62 Senior Night loss against Tennessee on February 26. in the NCAA tournament. Johnson said the team’s plan was to give the seniors another shot in the same atmosphere.

“We left things bad,” Johnson said. “We knew we had to redeem ourselves and come back. Coach said we want to give our seniors another Senior Night. We didn’t want this to be the last game so we had to come out hard.”
With the 110-69 win over the Troy Trojans, MSU will advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament to play the DePaul Blue Demons on Sunday.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
New lineup paves way for first round win