February 6, 2018 1:35:16 AM
STARKVILLE -- The "White Out" at Humphrey Coliseum turned out to be white hot.
Buoyed by a Humphrey Coliseum record crowd of 10,794, the No. 2 Mississippi State women's basketball team defeated No. 7 South Carolina 67-53 on Monday night before an ESPN2 national television audience.
"I want to praise our fan base," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "Much like what (South Carolina coach) Dawn (Staley) said a year ago at their place -- we probably don't beat them today if we're not at home. Our fans were just spectacular. What an environment for both teams. The Hump was just incredible.
"To be a part of that as a coach, I really appreciate that as a coach. It is not like that everywhere. In fact, it is not like that at most places, but it is here at Mississippi State."
A year ago, South Carolina defeated MSU 64-61 on Jan. 23, 2017, before a crowd of 13,120 at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.
South Carolina was coming off an 83-58 loss to No. 1 Connecticut on Thursday before a sell-out crowd of 18,000 in Columbia, South Carolina.
"It was a good atmosphere. It reminded me of Colonial Life (Arena) a lot," said South Carolina senior forward A'ja Wilson, who had a game-high 25 points. "It was just the opposite of being at home. They were booing us instead of cheering for us."
MSU received several lifts from the crowd, particularly in the fourth quarter when a 3-pointer by Victoria Vivians (team-high 24 points) and two more by Blair Schaefer (14 points) were part of a 13-0 run that turned the tide.
"It was electric," said MSU junior point guard Jazzmun Holmes, who had six points, four rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. "I barely could her myself think and hear coach Schaefer call the plays. We could barely hear each other call the plays. It was kind of a good feeling."
The crowd eclipsed the previous all-time attendance mark in the Hump of 10,788 for the MSU's men's basketball team's game against Kentucky on Feb. 16, 2010.
The previous best crowd for a MSU women's basketball game at the Hump was 10,626 for South Carolina's 57-51 victory on Jan. 24, 2016.
Fouls play a role for Gamecocks
Staley said having sophomore point guard Tyasha Harris for only 26 minutes due to foul trouble affected the Gamecocks. She said playing without Harris, who eventually fouled out after scoring six points and handing out four assists, "disrupted" what South Carolina was trying to do on offense. She said the Gamecocks needed better guard play on a night when the Bulldogs won despite shooting 36.7 percent (22-for-60) from the field. South Carolina was a little better at 37.7 percent (20-for-53), but the Gamecocks were 3-for-15 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Doniyah Cliney (10 points) was the only other South Carolina player in double figures.
The Gamecocks also hurt themselves with 17 turnovers that the Bulldogs converted into a 19-4 edge in points off turnovers.
"It was during those times when she was out of the game that Mississippi State took advantage," Staley said.
Vivians takes over
Although Vivians had only four points in the second half, she was instrumental in keeping the Bulldogs in the game in the first half.
In the second quarter, Vivians scored 10 of her 12 points in the frame in a span of 3 minutes, 17 seconds. The outburst helped the Bulldogs (24-0, 10-0 Southeastern Conference) erase a 20-10 deficit to start the quarter and take a 29-28 halftime lead.
"Coach was calling the plays for me," Vivians said, "and it was a matter of executing the plays."
Vivians scored eight of her points in the first half by creating shots off the dribble. Most of the half-court sets the Bulldogs ran involved weaves and dribble drives designed to force the Gamecocks to switch defenders to help create lanes to the basket.
Schaefer said he had confidence to call 24 plays for Vivians, who was 8-for-24 from the field, and that he probably called more plays for her only to have her turn them down.
Staley thought her team did a good job against Vivians and forced the Bulldogs to go to a bigger lineup with Chloe Bibby instead of Roshunda Johnson.
"We just didn't have enough guard play to sustain the tempo and to not turn the ball over," Staley said.
Staley also liked the shots the Gamecocks forced Vivians to take. Still, she acknowledged Vivians hit a few big ones. She also felt Vivians drove the basketball more than she did a year ago.
Defense rises to occasion
Schaefer wasn't pleased after giving up 20 points in the first quarter.
But the "Secretary of Defense" had plenty to like in the second and fourth quarters when MSU held South Carolina to eight and nine points, respectively.
"I am so proud of their competitive spirit tonight and their toughness because that is what we had to have to beat South Carolina," Schaefer said.
MSU held South Carolina (18-5, 7-3) to its third-straight game under 40 percent shooting from the field. The Gamecocks entered the game leading the SEC in field goal percentage (48.6).
MSU also forced South Carolina into its seventh game this season with at least 17 turnovers.
MSU's 40-36 rebounding edge marked the fourth time the Gamecocks have been outrebounded. South Carolina has lost all four games (Notre Dame, Missouri, and Tennessee).
This and that
MSU junior center Teaira McCowan had nine points and 20 rebounds. Her rebounds pushed her to 318 for the season, which eclipsed the previous single-season record set by Martha Alwal in the 2013-14 season. ... The Humphrey Coliseum record crowd raised MSU's home attendance to 84,887 with games remaining against Kentucky (Sunday), Texas A&M (Feb. 18), and Auburn (Feb. 22). Coach Schaefer has pledged to donate $10,000 to the Starkville Boys and Girls Club if MSU shatters the program record for attendance in a season (92,914 in 2015-16) and breaks 110,000. With 84,887 after Monday's crowd, MSU needs a three-game total of at least 25,113 to reach that goal. ... MSU will play Florida at 6 p.m. Thursday in Gainesville, Florida. The Bulldogs beat the Gators 90-53 on Jan. 25 in Starkville.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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