August 12, 2011 10:18:00 AM
ANTWERPEN, Belgium - Second-half dominance keyed by a staunch defensive effort has been a common theme for the Mississippi State men''s basketball team in its European Tour.
That was the case Thursday night against perennial Division II power St. Jan, as MSU flexed its muscles in the final 20 minutes en route to a 88-63 victory at the Sporthal Linkeroever.
Junior forward Wendell Lewis paced MSU with 15 points, followed by Arnett Moultrie and Deville Smith with 14. Rodney Hood (13 points) and Brian Bryant (11) also scored in double figures.
Moultrie, the junior transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso, had his string of three-straight double-doubles snapped. He had seven rebounds.
"The thing I liked the most was the energy we played with," said MSU coach Rick Stansbury, whose team improved to 4-0 with one game remaining. "We were basically coming off two road games (due to travel to each site) on back-to-back nights, and I was concerned with fatigue. But that wasn''t an issue. We just played hard and with a lot of energy."
In the second quarter, plays on both ends of the floor pushed MSU to its first double-digit lead at 29-19 on a driving layup by Hood. The advantaged swelled to 39-25 on a 3-pointer by Deville Smith with 1 minute, 57 seconds to play. MSU led 41-30 at halftime.
"We just kept pressuring them and forcing turnovers," Lewis said.
The Bulldogs forcing five turnovers on St. Jan''s first six possessions to open the third quarter on a 12-2 run. The spurt helped MSU build its biggest lead, 71-42, on a putback by Shawn Long.
"Everyone battled and played hard," Stansbury said. "I think you''ve seen this team improve with every game. That''s what you want to see."
MSU is off today. It will make a four-hour bus ride to Paris, and play its final game at 9 a.m. Saturday.
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