Vic Schaefer is not into moral victories.
When it comes to playing in the Southeastern Conference, the Mississippi State women's coach knows that playing close and not getting the job done in the end is not good enough.
Schaefer was proud that his Bulldogs played hard and found a way to lead the Florida Gators before losing a 61-55 decision Thursday night.
As much as he liked the fight his team showed, Schaefer can't accept it resulting in a loss.
"I can't be satisfied about losing by six to Florida when we fouled to give them their last six points," Schaefer said. "I just can't do it. It's not my make up. We played hard and I'm proud of them for competing.
They feel pretty good about how hard they played. I don't think they are very happy about losing at the end of the day. They didn't bring me to Mississippi State and write me a check every two weeks to lose."
MSU, which has an 8-8 overall mark, looks to break through in the SEC today when it travels to LSU. The tip is scheduled for 2 p.m. at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, La.
The Bulldogs have lost their first three league games, but have improved the point spread in each outing.
After starting the conference schedule with a 92-41 loss at Vanderbilt, MSU lost home decisions to South Carolina 60-46 and Florida.
Schaefer used the word "disappointing" to describe his feeling after the loss to the Gators, only because the Bulldogs were close and didn't finish.
"It needs to translate into a victory and you hate to let one get away," Schaefer said. "We're not going to light the world on fire offensively. We have too many deficiencies in that area."
Sophomore Martha Alwal, who achieved her seventh double-double of the season against Florida with 17 points and 12 rebounds, said MSU needs to continue striving to get better.
Even though Alwal saw signs of improvement against the Gators, the areas of committing fouls and turnovers are hurting the Bulldogs right now.
Now that MSU goes on the road again, Alwal knows the concentration must be at a higher level.
"If we can control those two aspects, we'll be fine and we'll be there," Alwal said. "(We need to) play as hard as we did (against Florida) and tune the crowd out (at LSU). (We need to) play to our drum, go and work hard."
Alwal and former West Oktibbeha player Shamia Robinson were the starters in the front court for the Bulldogs against Florida, while Candace Foster, Kendra Grant and Jerica James began the game at guards. Grant averages 13.1 points per game to lead the squad.
Injuries to Sherise Williams and Darriel Gaynor forced Schaefer to juggle his lineup. Williams has a stress fracture of the lower leg and won't play for four to six weeks, while Gaynor has a foot injury and her situation is day to day.
"I promise you nobody in the SEC is going to feel sorry for us," Schaefer said. "When they get you down, they keep a foot on your throat. That's the idea with anybody. It's a hard league to get well in."
LSU stands 10-6 overall, but has lost two of its three SEC games.
Coach Nikki Caldwell said the Lady Tigers are a team "searching for an identity," but does have the league's top scorer in Theresa Plaisance, who averages 18.3 points per game.
"It may be the strongest team we put on the court offensively, but on the flip side, one of the weakest teams defensively historically," Caldwell said. "We are getting good play out of Theresa Plaisance, who has emerged as a go-to for us. Our freshman Danielle Ballard is putting up unbelievable numbers for us on both ends of the floor. It's still early in the season and more games to be played."
While LSU believes it still has time for its team to come together and find success, MSU won't be happy unless it leaves the court with an SEC victory in the very near future.