MSU's Carnecia Williams (23) looks for a shot against Savannah State on Wednesday night. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
Carnecia Williams started both halves strong to help the Mississippi State Bulldogs to a women's basketball victory Wednesday night.
The redshirt sophomore forward from Memphis, Tenn., had a career-high 26 points as the Bulldogs defeated the Savannah State Tigers 70-55 at Humphrey Coliseum.
After reaching a career-high with a 12-point first half, Williams had a 3-point play to start the second half to give MSU a 38-29 lead.
Williams came into the game averaging 3.8 points per game. She was in double figures by the 12-minute mark of the first half for the Bulldogs.
MSU women's coach Vic Schaefer was happy with the play of Williams, but wants her to build on it.
"We've got to be careful how we handle success right now," Schaefer said. "I'm proud of her and Sherise (Williams) both in the paint. I thought Sherise played her best game.
"I thought our kids executed and we wanted to exploit the inside a little bit. We wanted to go down there and I thought they did a good job."
Kendra Grant had a double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
"Kendra is young and inexperienced, but she is a competitor," Schaefer said. "She rebounded well. I told her that you've got to help our bigs rebound."
A basket by Carnecia Williams gave Mississippi State a 14-6 lead in the early moments of the first half, but the Tigers made a run and took their first advantage at 22-19 with 6:42 remaining in the opening frame.
Grant tied game for MSU with a 3-point play at 5:55 mark and later she scored off a pass from point guard Katia May as the Bulldogs gained a 24-22 lead at the 5:30 mark.
Sherise Williams and Darriel Gaynor hit shots to increase MSU's lead to 28-22.
The game went back and forth during the latter stages of the first half, but a pair of free throws by Sherise Williams put the Bulldogs up 30-29 with 1 minute left.
MSU scored five more points before the end of the half on a technical foul free throw and jumper by Grant and a shot at the buzzer from top of the key by Gaynor. That gave the Bulldogs a 35-29 lead at halftime.
Along with the scoring from Carnecia Williams and Grant, Sherise Williams added 10 points.
With Grant, Martha Alwal and the two Williams, Schaefer believes there is potential for them because of one reason.
"Those kids care," Schaefer said. "I don't have to coach those kids hard. That's a good place to start with this basketball team. I do have confidence in those kids."
For the game, the Bulldogs shot 48 percent (26-of-54) from the field and 69 percent from the free-throw line (18-of-26).
MSU, which improved to 3-4 this season, travels to play Southern Mississippi on Saturday with tipoff time set for 4 p.m.
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