Mississippi State found the going tough Thursday night in its Southeastern Conference women’s basketball opener.
The Bulldogs struggled from the start of a 92-41 setback at Memorial Gymnasium. Vanderbilt (11-3 overall, 1-0 conference) won its sixth straight in the series, while MSU (8-6, 0-1) dropped its conference opener for a third straight season.
“Vanderbilt is as good as I thought they were,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “Coach (Melanie) Balcomb has them playing at a high level. When you guard them, it’s like guarding an NBA team. We were close a couple of times in the first half, but they made some tough shots.
“They were full of energy and beat us up and down the floor. We’re disappointed in our locker room because of our lack of competitive nature.”
After the Bulldogs grabbed an early 3-2 lead, the Commodores righted the ship with nine straight points. A basket by Carnecia Williams brought the Bulldogs within 11-5. Vanderbilt scored the game’s next five points to go up by double digits.
A jumper by Martha Alwal brought MSU within 23-11 with 10:55 left in the first half. The Commodores responded with the game’s next eight points to push the advantage to 31-11.
Vanderbilt ended the first half with a 15-5 run and led 53-18 at the intermission.
In the opening half, the Commodores built the good lead with 18-of 31 shooting, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
“When you don’t compete and play hard, things can get away from you in a hurry,” Schaefer said. “We’re a young, inexperienced basketball team. We’re trying to lay a foundation. I’ve done this before, and we’ll be okay.”
The Commodores scored the second half’s first 10 points and cruised to the victory.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 16 of 49 shots from the field (32.7 percent), 1 of 13 shots from 3-point range (7.7 percent) and 8 of 10 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent). The Commodores hit 31 of 54 shots from the field (57.4 percent), 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range (53.8 percent) and 23 of 25 shots from the foul line (92.0 percent).
Vanderbilt held a 32-27 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 22 turnovers, while the Commodores had 24 assists and eight turnovers.
Alwal led MSU with 14 points and seven rebounds. Williams added 11 points.
Vanderbilt placed five in double figures. Christina Foggie led the way with 17 points. Tiffany Clarke and Jasmine Lister each added 14 points. Kady Schrann scored 13 points, while Heather Bowe added 10 points.
MSU hosts South Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday.