“The first 10 minutes of the game we were not a good basketball team,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “We put so much emphasis on winning the first game at Houston and it had a hangover effect on this game. You could tell we were flat the last couple of days in practice.
“After the first 10 minutes of this game, we played very well.”
The lethargic start saw the teams tied at 13 with 10:35 left before the half. From there, the Maroon and White dominated on both ends of the floor to win their 28th straight home opener. The Bulldogs claimed the win in front of a crowd of 1,535 that is the largest for a non-conference home game since 3,042 watched MSU defeat Maryland on Nov. 22, 2009.
“We really can’t have a start like we did again,” MSU junior guard Kendra Grant said. “It was the second straight game where we got off to a rocky start. After that we settled down and played well. Defense was the key. We played smart on that end of the floor. We guarded them hard and didn’t make a lot of fouls.”
MSU (2-0) held Jackson State (0-3) to five first-half field goals and forced 21 turnovers in the opening half. The Bulldogs ended the half with an 18-4 run to take a commanding 39-19 lead at the intermission.
“We had the largest non-conference crowd we have had since I have been here and we were boring them to tears,” Schaefer said. “I told the girls to stop playing uptight and to go out and play their game. We were very active in the passing lanes and got some turnovers early and got some things going.”
“Sherise (Williams) came off the bench and really gave us some solid minutes,” Schaefer said. “I thought Jerica James did the same. Jerica did a great job from the point guard position. Obviously, Breanna Richardson’s stat line was great. She had 14 rebounds and five of those were on the offensive end. We will take that every night.”
The Bulldogs scored the first points of the second half to quickly build a 44-19 advantage. The lead topped the 30-point mark for the first time with 10:28 remaining to play.
The Bulldogs put five players in double figures for the second straight game, with Martha Alwal’s 17 points leading the way. Grant followed with 14 points, while Savannah Carter, Ketara Chapel and Williams added 10 each.
JSU received 10 points each from Ayanna Hardy-Fuller and Ekwara Ndongo.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 29 of 64 shots from the field (45.3 percent), 4 of 11 shots from 3-point range (36.4 percent) and 19 of 29 shots from the foul line (65.5 percent). The Tigers hit 12 of 49 shots from the field (24.5 percent), 0 of 2 shots from 3-point range (0.0 percent) and 18 of 28 shots from the foul line (64.3 percent).
MSU held a 51-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 17 assists and 22 turnovers, while the Tigers had two assists and 29 turnovers.
MSU resumes its four-game homestand by playing host to New Orleans at 3 p.m. Sunday. Fans are invited to bring their children pregame to Bully’s Kidz Kourt, which offers inflatables and games in Mize Pavilion starting at 2 p.m.