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Bulldogs improve to 7-0 behind 35-point win

220 days ago
Mississippi State Athletics
Photo: Mississippi State Athletics

VICTORIA, British Columbia - No. 10 Mississippi State opened the Greater Victoria Invitational with a 73-38 win against San Francisco on Thursday night at CARSA Performance Gym, earning a spot in the winners bracket for the remainder of the tournament.

The Bulldogs (7-0) will take on Green Bay on Friday at 7 p.m. CT. The Phoenix defeated Bowling Green, 73-54, in the first round.

"It's always impressive when you hold someone to just three points in quarter, but that's what we were able to do in the third quarter," said head coach Vic Schaefer. "That is a team that scored 71 points against Stanford. I was really pleased with how hard we played. We held them to 13 points in the second half. They were just 30 percent shooting, and we turned them over 21 times. Offensively, I thought we had good flow in our offense, especially considering how they held the ball against us and tried to shorten the game. We shot it well. I thought we did a great job, but you have to move on."

State's defense was locked in all game long, allowing a season-low 38 points and holding the Dons (2-4) to a .219 shooting clip during the final three quarters of the game. The Bulldogs forced 21 turnovers in the game, which resulted in 27 points for MSU.

Mississippi State did a great job of scoring in the paint as well as knocking down shots from beyond the arc. State held a 44-18 scoring advantage in the paint and nailed seven 3-pointers to keep the offense balanced throughout the entire game.

Jordan Danberry led all players with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with four rebounds and two steals. Andra Espinoza-Hunter finished with 12 points behind a trio of long balls, while Chloe Bibby recorded 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers.

Rickea Jackson tallied nine points, three rebounds and an assist in the game, and Jessika Carter dropped eight points, six boards and two blocks.

Mississippi State had a slow start in the first quarter, but the defense forced seven turnovers to limit the Dons on offense for the majority of the period. San Francisco rallied at the end of the period, using a 7-0 run and shooting 6-of-9 from the field to make things even at 16-16 at the break.

The Bulldogs offense got rolling in the second stanza, knocking down eight of their 12 attempts from the floor while holding USF to just 20-percent shooting. Bibby led the team in scoring for the half with 10, while Danberry added eight and Jackson dropped seven to give State a 35-25 lead at halftime.

The second half was all Mississippi State. In the third quarter, MSU's defense shut down San Francisco, holding the Dons scoreless for the first eight minutes of the quarter and allowing just three points to take a 53-28 lead.

Behind a 16-2 run during the final frame, State cruised to the 35-point victory. San Francisco connected on just two of its final 11 shots in the game. The Bulldogs shot 52 percent from the field in the game compared to just 32 percent by the Dons.

"Green Bay plays really hard," said Schaefer. "They are going to post up our guards. If we aren't good defensively, we could find ourselves in some trouble. We are going to have to do a good job defensively. We have to try and take people out of what they want to do and impose our will. Offensively, we have to continue to work hard and not settle."