HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer took a few minutes during the third quarter to give a spirited lecture to star guard Victoria Vivians as she sat on the bench following a few bad plays.
There was really no need to hurry. Breanna Richardson made sure the Bulldogs would be just fine.
Richardson scored a season-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead No. 5 Mississippi State over Southern Mississippi 72-50 on Saturday.
The performance made for two special days in a row for Richardson.
“I'm proud of that kid,” Schaefer said. “We were at graduation last night. She and I didn't roll in here until 12:30 this morning. For her to come back and play after graduating last night is kind of appropriate. She really played well _ aggressive and physical underneath.”
Chinwe Okorie added 18 points for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State (9-0) never trailed, jumping out to a 21-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs exploited their considerable size advantage in the post during the early run, with the 6-foot-1 Richardson and 6-foot-5 Okorie converting easy opportunities.
Southern Miss (7-2) cut the lead to single digits a few times in the second and third quarters, but couldn't hit enough shots to make things close. Brittanny Dinkins led the Golden Eagles with 18 points.
“We just couldn't ever get over that hump,” Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “But I'm proud of how we fought. We've just got to sharpen up the mental side of it so when we play these types of teams we can overcome some frustration.”
Mississippi State won handily despite a subpar game from Vivians, who finished with 11 points on 5 of 15 shooting. Richardson was there to pick up the slack, shooting 7 of 9 from the field.
“I actually shocked myself,” Richardson said. “I honestly didn't know I had that many points and rebounds. I just came out, felt good, got into the rhythm of the game and played hard.”
SCHAEFER SCOLDS DEFENSE
Schaefer made it clear he was disappointed in the play of Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson and Vivians, the team's three starting guards, especially on the defensive end.
“It's the worst defensive team I've ever had,” Schaefer said. “I know we held them to 50, but our lack of commitment defensively really irritates me.”
NO OUTSIDE SHOT
Mississippi State won despite just making 1 of 11 3-point attempts. Before Saturday, the fewest 3-pointers the Bulldogs had made in a game this season was two against Texas.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue to plow through their nonconference schedule without a loss. This wasn't Mississippi State's best performance _ especially by the guards _ but the team continues to find ways to score even when the outside shots aren't falling.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles have had a lot of success so far during nonconference play, but Mississippi State was a huge step up in competition. Southern Miss had solid guard play for most of the game, but couldn't keep the Bulldogs from getting easy inside looks.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to play Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday.
Southern Miss: Southern Miss is off for more than a week before playing California in the Puerto Rico Classic on Dec. 19.