No. 9 Mississippi St beats Florida Gulf Coast 65-60
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) Victoria Vivians scored 15 points, Morgan William added 14 and No. 9 Mississippi State edged Florida Gulf Coast 65-60 in the Puerto Rico Classic on Saturday.
Mississippi State (9-1) had a 41-29 halftime lead, but Florida Gulf Coast tied it at 57 on Kaneisha Atwater's layup with 5 1/2 minutes left. Breanna Richardson then scored four straight points to help the Bulldogs get the win.
Ketara Chapel had 13 points for Mississippi State, which shot just 6 of 25 (24 percent) from the field in the second half. Richardson finished with 11.
''We found a way,'' William said. ''On a neutral floor like this, you've just got to come together, fight and get the win.''
Florida Gulf Coast (7-4) kept the game close thanks to 40 points in the paint. Atwater had 25 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Vivians is the Bulldogs' leading scorer this season, but struggled against the Eagles. She was 7 of 22 from the field, including 1 of 6 from 3-point range.
But her teammates helped pick up the slack. Richardson, who scored eight points in the fourth quarter, had a crucial steal and layup with four minutes left. William made all four of her free-throw attempts in the final minute.
''We answered the bell down the stretch,'' Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. ''Morgan iced the game at the free-throw line on back-to-back possessions and then we got some defensive stops.''
Mississippi State has won four straight games since its only loss of the season against Texas.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs shot 14 of 17 (82.4 percent) from the free-throw line, including 11 of 12 (91.7 percent) in the second half.
Florida Gulf Coast: The loss halted the Eagles' four-game winning streak. They had 18 turnovers.
Mississippi State faces Western Michigan on Sunday in Puerto Rico.
Florida Gulf Coast faces Arizona on Sunday in Puerto Rico.