Johnson makes difference in win for Bulldogs

MSU's Roshunda Johnson, right, looks to pass around the Kentucky defense.
Staff Writer

It was Roshunda Johnson’s turn to make a difference for the second-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday.

When the Bulldogs needed some scoring early in the game against the Kentucky Wildcats, Johnson was happy to oblige.

Johnson scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and she hit all five of her 3-point field goals in the first half as MSU defeated Kentucky 74-55 at Humphrey Coliseum.

The Bulldogs held a 40-22 lead at halftime as Johnson scored 15 of her points.

“(Johnson) got us really where we were at halftime,” MSU women’s basketball head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We’re not there if she’s not knocking down shots. We really fed off of her.”

Johnson, who reached the 500-point mark of her career during the first half, hit her first 3-pointer with 7:04 remaining in the first quarter to put the Bulldogs up 9-2.

Offense doesn’t come first in the mind of Johnson. She wants to establish her defense before ever thinking about taking a shot.

“I knew if I started on defense, then my offense would come,” Johnson said. “I had my team behind me and they were looking for me. I just had to knock down my shot when the time came.”

MSU had eight 3-pointers in the first half. Along with Johnson, Blair Schaefer knocked down a pair from downtown and Victoria Vivians had the other.

Point guard Morgan William said it’s fun distributing the basketball when the Bulldogs are so successful. She had six of her eight assists in the first half.

“When someone gets hot, you’ve just got to try and give the ball back to them,” William said.

William even got into the act of long-range shooting in the second half as she sank one of her own.

The Wildcats were only able to make six out of 15 shots from 3-point territory and coach Matthew Mitchell said that makes a difference between winning and losing.

“There is no substitute for hitting shots,” Mitchell said. “(Johnson) looked great.”

Johnson wasn’t surprised with her hot streak from 3-point range in the first half. She said it’s something MSU prepares for every day.

“We practice like we play and that’s why we find the open player,” Johnson said. “We always have confidence.”