STARKVILLE, Miss. — Victoria Vivians had never beaten South Carolina during her stellar career at Mississippi State.
In front of the first sellout crowd in women's basketball history, …
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In front of the first sellout crowd in women's basketball history, Vivians scored 20 of her 24 points in the first half to help No. 2 Mississippi State beat seventh-ranked South Carolina 67-53 on Monday night.
The Bulldogs (24-0, 10-0 SEC) had lost 11 straight to the Gamecocks, including a defeat in the national championship game last season.
The rematch of that April game brought 10,794 fans to Humphrey Coliseum with the game sold out two weeks in advance. Student tickets were exhausted within eight minutes of them being offered earlier in the week.
"Our crowd was awesome," Blair Schaefer said. "Having people drive from other states to watch us play is a really great feeling. It got as loud as we thought it would; even louder. When (Vic Schaefer) came to Starkville, this is what he wanted to create."
The Gamecocks (18-5, 7-3) got off to a strong start and led 20-10 before the Bulldogs rallied behind Vivians.
A 13-0 run to begin the fourth quarter was the difference in the game as the Bulldogs turned a five-point third quarter deficit into a lead they wouldn't lose. Blair Schaefer hit two big 3-pointers during that stretch to help flip the game in the Bulldogs' favor.
Mississippi State had 14 points from Blair Schaefer to go along with Vivians' big night. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Gamecocks 40-36 and forced them into 17 turnovers.
"I think we are tough because I know how hard we practice," Vic Schaefer said. "We regrouped in the huddle at the end of the (first quarter) and did some great things executing.
Star center Teaira McCowan had two points in three quarters and finished with nine for the game. She did add a career-high 20 rebounds. Keeping her out of the paint was South Carolina's game plan.
"We understand that (McCowan) is very effective when she does things well on the floor," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "We want to make it more difficult on her scoring deep in the paint. She did a good job getting put-backs."
South Carolina (18-5, 7-3) started the game up 20-10 after one quarter holding the Bulldogs to just 4-of-16 from the field. The second quarter belonged to the Bulldogs who inserted freshman forward Chloe Bibby to guard A'ja Wilson. South Carolina scored eight points in the quarter and the Bulldogs had a 13-2 run that helped them out to a 29-28 halftime advantage.
The Gamecocks had 25 points and 14 rebounds from A'ja Wilson, but she managed just seven points in the second half. Doniyah Cliney also managed double figures with 10 points.
LACK OF PRODUCTION:
Besides Wilson and Cliney the rest of the Gamecocks combined for 18 points total.
BEST START EVER
Mississippi State is off to the best start in school history.
Mississippi State travels to Florida on Thursday.
South Carolina travels to Alabama on Thursday.
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