Martha Alwal (10) goes up to score for Mississippi State during women's basketball action Saturday night at Humphrey Coliseum. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs entered Saturdayâ€™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, MSUâ€™s womenâ€™s basketball coach Vic Schaefer was impressed with how his team came out the gates fighting.
â€śI think you have to be happy the way we played (Saturday night),â€ť Schaefer said. â€śIt was certainly the best first 20 minutes weâ€™ve played all year. We came out and threw the first punch, the next punch and the next punch.â€ť
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 Troyâ€™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.
â€śWe teach our kids that they have to protect their kitchen, not letting someone come and take your cookies,â€ť Schaefer said. â€śWe had some really good execution (Saturday night) and Iâ€™m really pleased with the effort from our kids.Â I think we did well in the press and we rebounded about as well as we have all year.â€ť
MSUâ€™s post players led the way as the pair of forwards both found themselves with double-doubles.
Alwal finished her night as the teamâ€™s leader. Going 8-for-13 from the floor, the sophomore posted 21 points and provided 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
â€śShe goes and gets a double-double, has 21 and 12, and sheâ€™s so silent,â€ť Schaefer said. â€śSheâ€™s got a tremendous upside, but I still donâ€™t think sheâ€™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 Iâ€™ve been wanting her to do the past couple of months.â€ť
Williams was the second MSU player with a double-double. Finishing right on Alwalâ€™s heels, Williams pulled down 10 rebounds and went 10-for-13 from field goal range for 20 points.
â€śSheâ€™s put back-to-back games together,â€ť Schaefer said. â€śWe havenâ€™t had a kid stack two games all year. Youâ€™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.
â€śIf we can just keep her from getting her knee dinged, she gets more confident and she plays harder when sheâ€™s not protecting herself.Â Sheâ€™s a great help defender andÂ sheâ€™s probably in the best shape of her life right now.â€ť
Senior Darriel Gaynor rounded out MSUâ€™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.
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