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November 16, 2012STARKVILLE, Miss., - Mississippi State head coach Vic Shaefer was disappointed with the way his team ended the first half. The Lady Bulldogs watched Louisiana Tech go on an 8-0 run over the final two minutes before halftime to extend their lead to 10.
But Shaefer sure was proud of the way his squad finished the second half when it mattered most. MSU made plays at both ends of the floor down the stretch and won a nail biter 57-55 on a jumper by Darriel Gaynor with 52-seconds remaining.
"I'm awfully proud of my kids," Schaefer said. "They fought their hearts out and refused to lose. I just loved our toughness tonight."
The Lady Bulldogs (2-1) drastically improved their shooting in the second half by 18.5-percent to finish shooting 36.1-percent for the game. MSU had only two points in the paint in the first half but scored 22 in the post in the second.
Kendra Grant paved the way in the final 20 minutes for State scoring 14 points. Grant finished with 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting for the game.
"In the first half I was shooting a lot of jumpers," Grant said. "Some were going in and some were falling out. At halftime coach just really emphasized driving and getting into the paint and drawing fouls. I guess in the second half that was more of mindset to get to the hole."
Gaynor added 11 points including 3-of-4 behind the arc while Martha Alwal added six points and six rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench.
During the early stages of the first half it was a back-and-forth battle. Louisiana Tech spurted out to a seven point lead by the six minute mark but the Lady Bulldogs cut that down to two less than two minutes later.
But the Lady Techsters went on an 8-0 run over the final 2:32 before halftime to take a 33-23 lead.
Louisiana Tech would keep that advantage until the 8:33 mark of the second half when a Grant layup tied things back up. The two teams would trade baskets the rest of the way until Gaynor drilled her jumper with 52-seconds left for the eventual game-winner.
The Lady Techsters shot 42.6-percent for the game including 50-percent in the first half. But Louisiana Tech also committed 23 turnovers with led to 20 Lady Bulldog points on the other end.
"I'm so excited for our kids," Schaefer said. "That team beat our kids by one last year in Ruston with six seniors that aren't here anymore and those six seniors played the bulk of the minutes. (Louisiana Tech) had quite a few kids back on that team. I told our kids before the game that I didn't care what team was here last year because this is my team and I'm not trading them for anybody. I don't care what that team we're about to play did last year. We'll deal with them this year with this group and I was really excited for our kids that they went in and battled them."
Brittany Lewis led the Lady Techsters with a double-double. Lewis scored 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed 10 boards.
Kelia Shelton added 14 points while Whitney Frazier chipped in seven as Louisiana Tech dropped to 0-3 on the year.
Mississippi State will be back in action Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. going south of the border to take on Winthrop in the Hardwood Tournament of Hope from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
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