11-seed MS State's defense smothers 6-seed Creighton
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Mississippi State cruises past Creighton and into the second round with its 81-66 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
With the victory, 11-seed Mississippi State becomes the first team to play in the First Four and advance to the round of 32.
State used a commanding first quarter and grabbed a 25-16 lead. Things got rolling right off the tip when Debreasha Powe hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Bulldogs a lead they would never surrender.
During the strong opening frame, Stat held 6-seed Creighton to just 17% shooting from behind the three-point line, while State shot 71%.
Mississippi State's defense was the story of the second half, holding Creighton to shooting 12% from the field and 18% from the three-point line in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs tied a season-high for made threes in a game with 11, their first time hitting 11 triples since Old Dominion on Dec. 19. For the game, MSU shot 49% from the field, 57% from three and 90% from the free-throw line.
State held Creighton to its lowest field goal percentage (37%) since Jan. 20, when they shot just 33%. The Bulldogs also held the Bluejays to just 26% shooting from three, their sixth-lowest percentage of the season.
JerKaila Jordan was a force, scoring 20 points while adding four rebounds and four steals. Jordan scored 15 of her 20 points in the first half, 10 coming from the second quarter. Jordan has scored 20-plus points in four games this season and 20 in her career.
Jessika Carter was a leader on the court, putting up 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Carter has recorded 10 double-doubles this season, 29 in her career. Carter tied her career-high with four assists on the night.
Johnson had a perfect game shooting 100% from the field and the three-point line. Asianae Johnson, Ahlana Smith and Anastasia Hayes followed right behind Carter. Hayes scored 12 points, while Smith and Johnson each added 10.
Hayes pushed the ball all over the court, collecting seven assists on the night, Smith following right behind Hayes with five assists.
• State knocked down five three-pointers in the first quarter, the most threes State has scored in the first quarter this season.
• The Bulldogs shot 71% from the three in the first quarter.
• State led by 20 going into the fourth quarter.
• State shot 58% from behind the three-point line to end the game, while the BlueJays shot just 26%.
• The Bulldogs' 90% free throw shooting is a season-high.
• State outrebounded Creighton 37-33.
• State's bench outscored Creighton's 16-9.
Quoting Coach Sam Purcell
On the chance to play in the Sweet Sixteen ... "I think there are great storylines here. Again, I was honored to know that we were coming up here. I have a lot of respect for this place. I mentioned it multiple times, the people here are the nicest people, and I'm not just saying that because I'm here. I've been coming here for 10 years. I'm serious. It's like a treat like no other. Like the ushers, and people think I'm joking. They are the nicest people. Now, be interesting to see how nice when we play Notre Dame, they are to me.
"I got to give a shoutout to my Irish Pub bar right down from the hotel. What's the name of that place? O'Roarkes. Don't put that on Twitter, okay? But they were great. The bartenders and the waitresses are awesome. When I go in there tomorrow, I doubt I'm going to get the same services. I might be sitting in the hotel. Again, I respect that. That's the beauty of sports. I think anybody who is learning me really quick loves to have fun. I'm having fun with this but most importantly, my young women are, too."
Quoting JerKaila Jordan
On three-point shooting ... "I'll say confidence, but also say just playing together. When we share the ball we're just as good as anybody in the country. Dang, I lost it. No, but just creating space for each other, knowing when to make the extra pass, make the pass to the other teammate, and just props to my teammate for knocking it down."
Mississippi State will play No. 3 seed Notre Dame on Sunday. The time for the game has not yet been announced.