Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Richardson, Okorie lead No. 5 Bulldogs To Road Win

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - A day after earning her Mississippi State degree, Breanna Richardson scored a game-high 19 points as the No. 5 Bulldog women's basketball team rolled over in-state rival Southern Mississippi 72-50 Saturday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum. (Article Source: Mississippi State Athletics Media Relations)

Playing before a large and vocal crowd of Maroon and White supporters, MSU won its fifth straight to even the all-time series with its in-state rival. The Bulldogs were playing for the first time since a week-long break for final examinations and also playing for the first time as the nation's fifth-ranked team.

Ironically, Richardson set her career high of 20 points in a 2014 win over Southern Miss. On this day, she was 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-7 from the line. Also in double figures were Chinwe Okorie with a career high-tying 18 points and Victoria Vivians with 11 points.

"I really like playing here," Richardson said. "This my graduation gift to the team. With (Dominque Dillingham) down for a few games, somebody had to step up. I kind of even shocked myself."

Richardson also had 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the season. Okorie, who finished a rebound shy of a double-double, had a pair of blocks. It was the fourth time this season the Bulldogs held an opponent to 50 or fewer points.

"Breanna is special," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "We got in here around 12:30 this morning, after she went through graduation. Then she put up that kind of game. We need more players to step up like that."

The Bulldogs open the game with back-to-back baskets by Okorie. MSU had a game plan centered around exploiting his height advantage inside.

An 11-0 run by the Maroon and White pushed the advantage to 17-6 in the final minutes of the first quarter. Vivians scored in the closing seconds of the quarter as the Bulldogs built a 21-6 lead after one quarter.

Southern Miss used strong guard play to keep the game close. Dinkins capped a 5-0 run as the Lady Eagles chipped back within 25-16 with 4:33 left in the half. The Bulldogs would build the lead back to 15 points on a 3-pointer by Blair Schaefer.

MSU led 33-22 at halftime.

In the second half, the Lady Eagles cut it back to nine points early. However, the Bulldogs stretched the lead back out to 15 rather quickly and were not threatened after that.

A jumper by Richardson ran the lead to 47-32 with 1:11 left in the third quarter. A jumper by Morgan William as the quarter expired gave the Bulldogs a 51-34 lead.

An old-fashioned 3-point play by Vivians ran the lead to 20 in the early stages of the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs would lead by as many as 23 in the final quarter.

"We did a really job of getting the ball inside and that was exciting," Okorie said. "It's something we work on every day in practice. However, we sometimes leave our best plays on the practice floor. We just have to work on being more consistent."

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 28 of 62 shots from the field (45.2 percent), 1 of 11 shots from 3-point range (9.1 percent), 15 of 20 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent). The Golden Eagles hit 18 of 52 shots from the field (34.6 percent), 4 of 15 shots from 3-point range (26.7 percent) and 10 of 14 shots from the foul line (71.4 percent).

MSU held a 44-30 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Golden Eagles had 11 assists and 16 turnovers.

Southern Miss (5-2) received 18 points from Brittany Dinkins and 10 rebounds from Jayla King.

MSU returns to action Tuesday night with a 6:30 p.m. start at Arkansas-Little Rock.

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