STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — I.J. Ready had 14 and Aric Holman added 13 to lead Mississippi State to a 65-59 win over Northwestern State on Monday night.
Ready and Holman combined for 10 of the Bulldogs' last 12 points. Northwestern State's Zeek Woodley made 5 of 9 on 3-point attempts, and finished with 28 points.
Ready's two free throws put Mississippi State up 55-54 with 4:05 remaining in the second half and the Bulldogs never trailed again.
“I am really happy we got the win and we were obviously short-handed tonight,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. “We started out in a zone because I was worried about getting in foul trouble. We didn't shoot the ball well either and you never expect Tyson (Carter) to go 0 of 7 (on three pointers). But I am proud of the way Eli Wright defended and rebounded and we just hope to get healthier.”
In his first college start, Wright scored a career-best 11 points and also led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds.
“Right before the game Coach Howland came to me and told me I would be starting,” said Wright, who was 4 of 5 from the field. “I was glad to take advantage of the chance they gave me. I did okay but I could've been more aggressive. Coach Howland told me to key on my rebounding so I have tried to progress on that.”
The Demons jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the first six minutes as both teams struggled offensively in the first half. Mississippi State responded with an 18-6 run to take a 22-20 lead after a dunk by Tyson Carter.
The first half finished with the Bulldogs and Demons deadlocked at 28-28. Mississippi State shot 40 percent and missed all nine three-point attempts in the first half.
For the game, Northwestern State shot 38.9 percent from the field and made 9 of 21 three pointers. The Demons also out-rebounded Mississippi State 33-31.
“I am really proud of our kids coming in and competing against a bigger and quicker team,” said Northwestern State head coach Mike McConathy. “Our Achilles' heel was our turnovers and they got 26 points off our (19) turnovers.”
Mississippi State has 13 turnovers and shot 46.2 percent for the game. The Bulldogs made just 2 of 15 three points and made 15 of 20 free throws.
Mississippi State: Already without leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon, the Bulldogs were also missing freshman Lamar Peters on Monday. That resulted in Eli Wright's first career start while walk-on guard Nick Singleton also received his most significant minutes of the year. Singleton finished with five points, his first points of the season.
Northwestern State: Monday's contest in Starkville continued the Demons' tough non-conference slate, particularly against the SEC. The Demons opened the season against Texas A&M and then faced Oklahoma. The Demons have also faced Missouri this season and have now lost all three outings against the SEC this season.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue their five-game homestand on Thursday against Oregon State. It will mark the Beavers' first time to play at Humphrey Coliseum.
Northwestern State: The Demons return home Thursday against LSU-Shreveport.