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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Bulldogs bounce back, defeat Aggies

Olivia Zeringue | The Reflector

Victoria Vivians shined with 18 points in the 71-61 win against Texas A&M. The team now sits at 21-1 overall and 7-1 in SEC play.

Many wondered how the Bulldogs would rebound after their loss to then No. 5 South Carolina on Jan. 23. On Sunday night, they answered with a 71-61 win against Texas A&M.

Head coach Vic Schaefer said despite the best start in school history, he had to stay focused on the challenge Texas A&M was bringing ahead.

“Either we were gonna play well and beat ‘em, or we were gonna play bad and let them beat us,” Coach Schaefer said.

It was a hard fought game in the Hump Sunday with the Bulldogs coming out of their first loss of the season.

To begin, they seemed to still be shaken and had a rough, uncoordinated start establishing tempo for them to play by, which cost them a productive first quarter. The Aggies left the first quarter in control 20-15 before the Bulldogs began to click.

Morgan William sustained a knee injury early but came back out to give the Bulldogs leadership before Vivians got into a rhythm of her own. William finished with 10 points. Texas A&M’s leaders Curtyce Knox, Danni Williams and Anriel Howard shot well to begin the game and fed off MSU’s discombobulation with Khaalia Hillman in the paint.

In the second quarter, Mississippi State did not look back as they took control and outscored Texas A&M 26-9. The Bulldogs had a tighter defense and closed many gaps that the Aggies found opportunities in early. Dominique Dillingham’s impressive defense stood out as she kept Knox on her toes and forced five turnovers. Teiara McGowan came into the game with an explosive answer to Hillman. McGowan scored eight points and collected six rebounds in the second quarter alone. 

Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs with 10 points before halftime. Mississippi State successfully played the game of catch up and pulled away a tremendous lead of 41-29 to enter the third quarter. 

The Bulldogs came out with a stronger and slower rhythm to run by. Vivians took control during the third quarter but she was met with an aggressive defensive stand by the Aggies. It allowed the Aggies to regain the dominant performance from the first quarter. Both teams were having a quality performance on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs and Aggies each scored 14 points in the 3rd quarter. 

Texas A&M entered the final quarter with a strict defense and made sure they halted Vivian’s dominance.The Bulldogs’ momentum took a tumble entering the fourth quarter with the Aggies trying to get control back late in the game. The Aggies cut the Bulldog lead of 55-43 to 55-50 in the first four minutes. It was not until Okorie scored the first fourth quarter points at 6:26 that the Bulldogs came back. 

Schaefer put his faith in the girls. While Knox and Jasmine Lumpkin tried to make a successful comeback, Roshunda Johnson came off the bench as the answer and was prepared. She scored nine points to ease the tension in the game. The Bulldogs closed out the nail-biting fourth quarter victorious, winning the game 71-61.

“I‘ve been more aggressive in practice and helping my team in any way they need me to,” Johnson said. “It’s always being prepared when your number is called.”

Head coach Vic Schaefer said he believed in Johnson to pick up the pace in the game in order to win. 

“Whoever is coming off of the bench is just like another starter,” Coach Scheafer said. “You know you’re getting the veteran, mature kid coming off that can fix what’s broke. We’re really fortunate to have the depth we have at guard.”

 Regardless of the 20 game streak being broken, the fans did not miss a beat. The Hump had an attendance of 7,780, the third highest in program history. 

With the win over Texas A&M, Mississippi State improved to 7-1 in conference play and 21-1 overall. They will be back on the road to face the Auburn Tigers Thursday night at 8 p.m.

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Bulldogs bounce back, defeat Aggies