The fifth-ranked women’s basketball team in the nation came into Green Coliseum Saturday afternoon and provided more than ample evidence of deserving such acclaim.
Forward Breanna Richardson scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as Mississippi State University defeated the University of Southern Mississippi 72-50.
The Lady Bulldogs (9-0) also got 18 points from nine rebounds from center Chinwe Okore, as MSU dominated inside near the basket and limited the Lady Eagles to their fewest point total of the season.
“We worked on that,” said Richardson, who earned her bachelor’s degree Friday. “Coach said we’d have a huge height advantage, so we wanted to run a lot of high-low stuff and take advantage of that.”
Taller MSU out-rebounded the Lady Eagles 44-30, including a 16-8 edge off the offensive boards, and outscored USM 46-16 in the paint.
“Mississippi State’s just huge and when (Okorie) gets on the block, there’s just not much you can do,” USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “She’s just so much stronger. She’s probably as strong as our entire team if you put them all together.”
USM Guard Brittanny Dinkins finished with 18 points and five rebounds for USM (7-2), which saw a four-game winning streak snapped. Swingman Jayla King added eight points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
After trailing by 15 points after the first quarter, the Lady Eagles had the Lady Bulldogs’ lead down to nine points in both the second and third quarters.
But MSU pulled away with a 16-8 run to leave the Lady Bulldogs ahead by 17 at the end of the third quarter. USM would get no closer than 15 points.
“They’re really good, and do a great job with their press,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said of USM. “They stay after you. Give Joye-Lee and that staff a lot of credit. They play hard and they’re going to win a lot of games.
“We had some kids who I thought didn’t play really well, but I thought we had some other kids step up and come through.”