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MSU women get balanced scoring in first victory


From Special Reports



LAARNE, Belgium -- Travel difficulties didn't hinder the Mississippi State women's basketball team on the court Wednesday, as it opened its European tour with a 122-56 win against Sparta Laarne. 


The Bulldogs used solid pressure defense to open a 22-point first-quarter lead and never looked back. 


"It was pretty encouraging. We shot the ball well from range in a gym we've never been in. We had an hour to get ready, and I was proud of our energy and effort," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "We were really active defensively and made open shots. I thought we created opportunities for each other and played well together." 


Freshman Blair Schaefer had 15 points in the first half, while sophomore Breanna Richardson had 15 fourth-quarter points to finish with a game-high 19. 


Chinwe Okorie had 13 points and 17 rebounds as all 14 Bulldogs scored. Victoria Vivians (11 points), Dominique Dillingham (10 points), and Morgan William (10 points) also scored in double figures. 


MSU took the court just a couple hours after landing in Brussels. A flight cancellation and an emergency landing Halifax, Nova Scotia, forced the Bulldogs to arrive at 3 p.m. local time. The team loaded the bus and headed straight to Sportcentrum Veldmeers for the 7:30 p.m. game. 


Sparta Laarne scored off the opening tip, but the Bulldogs used pressure defense to go on a 6-0 run. Martha Alwal sparked the run, and Savannah Carter and Dominique Dillingham added two free throws each. 


The Bulldogs ran the lead to 18-8 behind three offensive rebounds and eight points from Okorie. Sparta Laarne was forced to call timeout with three minutes remaining in the first quarter after Ketara Chapel buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key. Minutes later Blair Schaefer found the ball in the left corner and knocked down the first of three triples that put State in front 24-10. 


The Bulldogs took a 32-10 advantage at the end of the first quarter thanks to a free throw and basket from Chapel and eight points from Schaefer, two 3-pointers, and a runner at the buzzer. 


Sparta Laarne opened the second quarter with 3-pointers from Kim Beeckmans and Fara De Troyer, but State answered with another push that ran the lead to 54-22 with 2 minutes, 11 seconds to go before halftime. 


Schaefer sparked the push with seven points, while LaKaris Salter added five. 


Kendra Grant buried a jumper and Okorie put in her 10th point of the first half as the Bulldogs took a 60-23 halftime lead. 


Vivians did the damage in the third quarter, scoring nine of her points in the stanza as MSU opened an 85-38 advantage. 


Richardson then took over in the fourth quarter, including a run of nine-straight points that put MSU over the century mark. 


MSU will tour Ghent today before returning to action against Waregem Basket in a 12:15 p.m. tip. 




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