The Lady Bulldogs came into the game 1 and 1 after suffering a 56-48 loss to the Hampton Pirates.
The game started off slow, then sophomore Kendra Grant opened the scoring for the Lady Bulldogs with a pull up jumper over a Techster defender. Senior Darriel Gaynor then lifted the team ahead with a shot beyond the arc five minutes into the half.
Mississippi State fell behind by 6 early then chipped away at the deficit by getting to the foul line and receiving two long jumpers from Grant. The Techsters lead was cut to four with eight minutes to play in the first half.
Gaynor brought the Bulldogs within one with a three-point shot set up by a screen from sophomore Martha Alwal. However, the Techsters quickly expanded the lead out to seven by drawing timely fouls and sinking two mid-range buckets.
Through some nifty dribbling and a pull up shot, junior Katia May brought the team to within three around the five minute mark. With four minutes left to play, the Bulldogs were down by two with a score of 23-25.
But Louisiana Tech quickly jumped back out to a big lead and lead the Lady Bulldogs at the half 33 to 23.
Near the end of the half the Lady Bulldogs got a scare when leading scorer Darriel Gaynor went down after taking a hit to the jaw. She eventually walked off the court on her own power.
Just like the first half, Kendra Grant came out scoring, putting up the first points of the half. But the Techsters continued to be successful at drawing fouls, and widened the lead to twelve.
Excellent post play from Candace Foster and Martha Alwal and a lay-up in transition from Grant closed the gap to six with fifteen minutes remaining in the game.
Grant continued to lift her team, scoring ten points within a seven-minute period. She scored the majority of her shots on quick pull ups and mid-range jumpers. Her assist in transition to Alwal brought the Lady Dawgs within four with nine minutes left to play.
Mississippi State tied it up following another stellar play from Grant in transition, who took it to the hole. She then proceeded to give her team the lead going coast to coast with a layup that brought the Humphrey Coliseum crowd to their feet.
The teams went back and forth the next few minutes and the teams ended up tied 53-53 with two minutes left in the game. Martha Alwal then scored in the post to put the Lady Dogs ahead by two but the Techsters followed suit with a similar post shot.
The Hump erupted when Darriel Gaynor scored a jump shot that put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 57-55. Schaefer's team quickly transitioned back on defense and created a huge turnover on a charge.
After a missed shot by the Lady Bulldogs, Louisiana Tech rebounded the ball with five seconds left in the contest and attempted a quick transition, but had the ball knocked out of bounds by Mississippi State. The Bulldogs held on to the victory after the final shot from Louisiana Tech fell short.
The leading scorer for the Bulldogs was Kendra Grant who scored 20 points in the contest. Darriel Gaynor added 11 and was 3-of-4 from the three-point line. Mississippi State was 22-of-61 (36%) in field goal shooting but shot 45% in the second half. On the defensive end they brought Louisiana Tech's shooting percentage from 50% in the first half to 35% in the second half.
Coach Schaefer, who felt his team responded well after the disappointing loss to Hampton, applauded their toughness, especially in the second half.
"I told our kids beforehand that I would not trade them for anybody," said Schaefer. "They really played tough tonight."
Next up for the Lady Bulldogs is the Hardwood Tournament of Hope in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during Thanksgiving. Both the players and coaches are looking forward to the event.
"For me it's great," said Gaynor. "It's my senior year and we finally get to go on a trip so I'm excited for the experience."
"These kids have earned it," said Schaefer. "I'm excited to take them to play in a different culture."
Schaefer is also looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with his Lady Bulldog family.
"My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, and this next week this team will be our family," he said.
Carew Ferguson is a feature writer for the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.