January 4, 2013 10:38:04 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Mississippi State University women's basketball team found the going tough Thursday night in its Southeastern Conference opener.
MSU struggled from the start in a 92-41 loss to Vanderbilt University at Memorial Gymnasium. The loss was the worst ever in a SEC opener for MSU. The previous worst loss was a 77-35 loss to No. 1 Auburn University on Jan. 11, 1989.
Vanderbilt (11-3, 1-0 SEC) won its sixth straight in the series, while MSU (8-6, 0-1) dropped its conference opener for a third straight season.
The loss was MSU's largest in the series since a 108-44 defeat on Jan. 17, 1993, in Nashville. It marked the most points Vanderbilt has scored in a regulation game in the series since a 99-60 victory on Feb. 2, 1997.
The Commodores beat the Bulldogs 106-98 in two overtimes on Feb. 3, 2005.
MSU also allowed its most points in a SEC game since a 98-83 loss to the University of Florida in the SEC tournament on March 2, 2006. It lost to Texas A&M 93-47 on Nov. 20, 2011. The Aggies are in their first year in the SEC this season.
"Vanderbilt is as good as I thought they were," MSU 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."
The loss also
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 minutes, 55 seconds 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 OK."
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), and 8 of 10 shots from the foul line (80). The Commodores hit 31 of 54 shots from the field (57.4), 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range (53.8), and 23 of 25 shots from the foul line (92).
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 will play host to the University of South Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday.
1. No. 4 MSU women look for school record against Ole Miss COLLEGE SPORTS