- Associated Press - Friday, December 14, 2018

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Anriel Howard’s willingness to expend every ounce of energy crashing around the paint for rebounds and loose balls has helped make Mississippi State’s offense one of the nation’s best so far this season.

Howard scored 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds in another impressive all-around performance on Friday night that helped the fifth-ranked Bulldogs beat Southern Mississippi 86-42.

“I love her passion for rebounding, she loves the dirty work,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “She embraces that, which we desperately need.”

Howard came to Mississippi State as a graduate transfer after three seasons at Texas A&M; and the 5-foot-11 forward has quickly turned into one of the team’s most dependable offensive options. She’s averaging nearly 15 points per game and her constant energy next to 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan - who had 13 points and 16 rebounds on Friday - has made the Bulldogs’ post play nearly unstoppable.

“I think the chemistry is definitely building with Teaira and my other teammates,” Howard said. “I feel like day by day I’m learning more about our personnel on the court and even off the court, which is making me more comfortable.”

Mississippi State didn’t have a great night offensively against Southern Miss, but made things very difficult for the Lady Eagles on the defensive end. The Bulldogs forced 27 turnovers and had a 43-29 rebounding advantage.

Southern Miss managed just 15 points in the second half.

“I thought we answered the bell in the second half,” Schaefer said. “You hold someone to 15 points in a half, you’re doing something right.”

Howard shot 6 for 12 from the field while McCowan was 5 for 8 and grabbed nine offensive rebounds. Jazzmun Holmes had 13 points and six assists, Jordan Danberry had 12 points and Chloe Bibby added 11.

Mississippi State (10-0) controlled the game throughout and never trailed after the opening few minutes, stretching its lead to 42-27 by halftime. Southern Miss (6-4) managed to stay fairly competitive in the first half by shooting nearly 55 percent, but the Golden Eagles struggled with turnovers and rebounding.

“I tell you what, Mississippi State is good,” Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “But I’ll tell you this, our Lady Eagles battled them for the first two quarters.”

Lee-McNelis said the Golden Eagles struggled in the second half after starting point guard Shonte Hailes went down with an ankle injury.

Southern Miss was led by Daishai Almond, who scored 10 points.

BIG CROWD

There was an announced crowd of 4,448 fans who came to see Friday’s game, which was the third-biggest for a women’s game at Reed Green Coliseum. Mississippi State fans made up a vast majority of the crowd, packing the yellow and black seats with plenty of maroon.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs continue to roll through their early schedule and have now won 46 straight regular season nonconference games. Mississippi State should get a challenge this week when it goes on a trip to Oregon and Washington.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles played hard, but lacked the talent to stay with the Bulldogs for four quarters. Southern Miss has a 4-12 record against Mississippi State.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State travels to play at Oregon on Tuesday.

Southern Miss hosts Blue Mountain on Tuesday.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP .

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25 .


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