MILWAUKEE, Wisc. With a 74-68 win at Marquette on Monday night, Vic Schaefer earned his 200th victory as the head coach at Mississippi State.
In just his 256th game at State, Schaefer became the second-fastest coach ever to achieve the milestone with an SEC program ahead of hall-of-fame coaches Joe Ciampi (258 games), Pat Summitt (259), Van Chancellor (263), Jim Foster (280) and Sue Gunter (280). Only Georgia's Andy Landers (251) reached the mark at a faster pace.
"I am so humbled and honored," said Schaefer. "Giving God the glory for blessing me with so many great players and my tremendous staff. It wouldn't happen without those two entities for sure. I have so many great players at Mississippi State that have helped me get there. To be mentioned with Andy Landers and Pat Summitt is just humbling. It is really hard for me to believe to be honest with you. It takes so many people to make something like that happen. I have had so many great players. Of course, Johnnie Harris has been by my side for all of them and Maryann Baker. They've been there through it all. Dionnah Jackson-Durrett and Elena Lovato have been there through a lot of them. I'm just so appreciative of them and the players. I am giving God the glory. Without him, it wouldn't be possible."
The Bulldogs (6-0) also extended their road win streak to 11 games, the longest active streak in Division I.
After a 13-2 run by Marquette (4-2) swung the momentum in its favor, State rallied on both ends of the floor in the final 5:41 to play to earn the victory. A three by Rickea Jackson, who had seven points in the fourth quarter, sparked State's offense late. Up by three with 32 seconds remaining, Jordan Danberry sealed the win with four free throws.
Danberry had a monster game, finishing with 20 points, a career-high seven steals, four rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes action. Jessika Carter also made her presence felt all night long, recording her third double-double of the season with a career-high 21 rebounds to go along with 14 points.
Andra Espinoza-Hunter came off the bench to record 13 points, while Jackson and Chloe Bibby each added 11 points to round out the double-digit scorers.
Despite the Golden Eagles shooting 49 percent from the field and knocking down 10 threes, Mississippi State's defense and free-throw shooting were the difference in the game. The Bulldogs forced 28 turnovers that they converted to 32 points. MSU went an impressive 20-of-23, including 9-of-10 during the final period, from the charity stripe.
"You know, we found a way," said Schaefer. "Going 20 out of 23 from the free-throw line is what you have to do on the road if you're going to win. Just a tremendous effort. We turned them over 28 times. That is what we want to do. We want to pressure, and we want to press. I had a lot of kids play a lot of minutes tonight. Our bench was good. I thought Rickea's last substitution in really made a difference. She made some big shots for us and finished at the rim like we needed her to.
"For me, it is a tremendous win. It is hard to win on the read, especially against good teams. Marquette is certainly every bit of a really good team. I thought the crowd was great. This was a great experience for us. Giving God the glory for a great road win."
Marquette came out hot in the first period, shooting 53 percent from the floor and knocking down all four of its 3-pointers. Selena Lott had 13 of her 16 total points to fuel the Golden Eagles on offense, but State was able to match everything. Behind seven points from Carter and five points apiece from Bibby and Danberry, MSU was able to even things up at 22-22.
The Bulldogs picked things up on the defensive end in the second stanza, holding MU to just 1-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Espinoza-Hunter provided a spark off the bench, scoring seven points in the quarter. Carter nearly had a double-double in the half with nine points and 10 rebounds to give State a 35-34 lead going into halftime.
The third frame featured swings in momentum from both teams. First, Marquette opened things up with a stretch of four consecutive baskets to take a 45-40 lead. State then used a 12-0 run to regain the lead. During one stretch, the Bulldogs forced eight turnovers and allowed just one shot attempt for more than four minutes of play. However, a late 3-pointer by the Golden Eagles cut MSU's lead to 54-52 heading into the final frame.
Marquette used a 9-2 run to begin the fourth quarter to take all the momentum. After a turnover led to a basket, Mississippi State faced a five-point deficit with less than six minutes to play and without anything falling offensively. Jackson stepped up big with a 3-pointer to cut it to a two-point, sparking State's offense late. She had a pair of huge baskets in the final two minutes to keep MSU ahead, while Danberry's free throws iced the game.
Up next, State continues its five-game stretch away from home, heading to Canada for the Greater Victoria Invitational on Nov. 28-30. Mississippi State opens with San Francisco Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CT.