No. 18 Bulldogs avenge loss to Commodores

Jan. 29, 2015

Box Score

By David Dawson

. -- When freshman Victoria Vivians got rolling Thursday night, Vanderbilt's chances of winning essentially vanished.

Vivians, who entered the night ranked sixth in the SEC scoring, went 5-of-7 from 3-point range in the second half and finished with a game-high 20 points to lead No. 18/18 Mississippi State to a 69-44 victory over the Commodores. Vivians came into the night averaging 14.6 per game.

"She showed a lot of confidence tonight," said Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb. "She knows her role on the team, and she came up big for them. You could see she was feeling it."

Mississippi State (22-2, 7-2) stretched its winning streak to four games and atoned for an earlier loss to the Commodores (12-9, 3-5).

Less than three weeks ago, Vanderbilt snapped the Bulldogs' 18-game, season-opening winning streak by downing Mississippi State, 78-62, at Memorial Gym. But Thursday's game played out far differently, as the Commodores never could get in sync offensively.

Vanderbilt shot just 34 percent from the floor, including 1-for-10 from 3-point range. The Commodores committed 22 turnovers against the relentless Bulldog defense, which has been among the best in the SEC this season.

"We just never really attacked at all tonight," said Balcomb. "And the few times that we did get the ball inside, we had several shots blocked."

Martha Alwal added 14 points and Kendra Grant had 12 for the Bulldogs. Rebekah Dahlman led Vanderbilt with eight points.

Mississippi State shot 50 percent from the field (26-of-52) for the game, including 8-of-15 from 3-point range.

Vanderbilt trailed 30-19 at the half but trimmed the deficit to six points, 31-25, early in the second half. Then Vivians went to work, making back-to-back 3s to push the lead to 37-25.

She then made three more 3s during a three-minute stretch later in the half -- including a wild, off-balanced shot right as the shot clock expired -- to help the Bulldogs pull away for good. 

Mississippi State's Kendra Grant scored 12 first-half points, going 5-of-9 from the floor, to help the Bulldogs build a 30-19 halftime lead.

Grant hit a pair of 3-pointers during an early 8-0 run that enabled the Bulldogs to build a 14-7 lead in the first eight minutes. Mississippi State maintained the lead the remainder of the half, and eventually built its biggest lead, 30-19, when Grant hit a jumper just before the buzzer.

Mississippi State limited Vanderbilt to 36 percent shooting (8-of-22) in the first half and held the Commodores without a 3-pointer (0-for-2). Vanderbilt also went just 3-of-4 from the foul line in the first 20 minutes, and recorded just one assist.

Coming into the night, Mississippi State ranked fourth in conference in overall defense (allowing 54.8 points per game) and were first in the SEC in 3-point defense (limiting opponents to 22 percent).

Vanderbilt hosts Florida on Sunday in the first of three straight home games for the Commodores. 



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