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January 31, 2013Mississippi State could not contain the high-octane offense of ninth-ranked Tennessee Thursday night.
The Lady Volunteers broke open a tight contest late in the first half and cruised to an 88-45 Southeastern Conference women's basketball victory at Thompson-Boling Arena.
With the victory, Tennessee maintained its conference lead with a 17-4 overall record and 8-0 mark in league play. MSU could not make it two straight after notching a conference win over Ole Miss. The Lady Bulldogs are now 9-12 and 1-7. Tennessee won a 34th straight meeting in the overall series.
"Give credit to Tennessee," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "(Coach) Holly (Warlick) is doing a great job with that team. I knew right now she is holding it together through some injuries. That's a hard thing to do. They play extremely hard. Their motors run at a high level. Transition and rebounding have been an issue for us, and it was a big problem again tonight for us."
Showing no lingering effect from a non-conference loss to Notre Dame Monday night, the Lady Volunteers scored the first 10 points of the game. The Bulldogs closed within 10-6 on two baskets by Martha Alwal and another from Darriel Gaynor.
The Lady Volunteers answered with an 8-0 run. Tennessee forced seven early turnovers and built an 18-6 advantage.
Still, MSU found some rhythm on offense and competed. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Kendra Grant and Gaynor brought the Maroon and White within 27-16.
Tennessee went back on the defensive attack and used some transition baskets to create half-ending 15-2 run for a 42-18 halftime lead.
"Transition is an issue for us, and everyone is attacking us in that area," Schaefer said. "We have a young team, and we play much better at home than we do on the road. Our energy level seems to be a little less on the road than it does at home."
The Lady Volunteers continue to throttle the Bulldogs' offensive attack in the early stages of the second half. Tennessee opened the half with a 20-10 run, as the Bulldogs managed only four field goals over the first eight minutes of the second half.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 18 of 57 shots from the field (31.6 percent), 5 of 12 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 4 of 13 shots from the foul line (30.8 percent). The Lady Volunteers hit 34 of 71 shots from the field (47.9 percent), 3 of 13 shots from 3-point range (23.1 percent) and 17 of 20 shots from the foul line (85.0 percent).
Tennessee held a 49-32 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 14 assists and 26 turnovers, while the Lady Volunteers had 18 assists and 15 turnovers.
For MSU, Alwal just missed a double-double with 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Grant added 10 points.
Tennessee received 21 points from Meighan Simmons, 15 points from Taber Spani, 10 points from Bashaara Graves and 10 points from Kamiko Williams. Williams also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds.
MSU hosts Arkansas at 2 p.m. Sunday. This contest will be shown regionally by SportSouth.
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