Mississippi State sophomore Jazzmun Holmes (10) skies high for a basket during Saturday's win. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
March 17, 2018 11:07:04 PM
STARKVILLE -- Vic Schaefer needed a jolt Saturday night.
The Mississippi State women's basketball coach didn't turn to a beverage or a snack to provide the energy he and his team needed. Fifty-six seconds into his team's first-round NCAA tournament game against Nicholls, Schaefer turned to Jordan Danberry.
"I needed Jordan to come in and give us some juice," Schaefer said. "She is my energy player, and she has been practicing well, and I needed her to come in and provide that, and she did. She did exactly what I needed her to do."
Danberry had six points, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 12 minutes Saturday night in No. 1 seed MSU's 95-50 victory against No. 16 Nicholls before a crowd of 10,211 in the Kansas City Regional at Humphrey Coliseum.
"She had three good assists and got us going and got out in transition," Schaefer said. "She did exactly what we needed at that moment."
Danberry was the first player off MSU's bench. The junior guard admitted she was surprised when Schaefer called on her to replace redshirt senior guard Roshunda Johnson less than a minute into the game. She didn't let the early appearance affect her mentality, though, because she knew Schaefer and the Bulldogs needed her to deliver a lift.
Danberry immediately provided additional ball pressure on Cassidy Barrios, Nicholls' leading scorer at 17.7 points per game.
"It kind of caught me off guard to get my name called so quickly, but I was excited because this is my first time ever playing in the NCAA tournament," Danberry said. "I have been preparing all week for it. I have been anxious and excited to play."
Danberry complemented her defensive effort by staying in attack mode, even though she picked up two fouls and had two turnovers in her first six minutes. She responded in the third quarter with a layup off an assist from Victoria Vivians. She added a left-handed layup off a cut across the middle of the lane in what was one of her nicest moves as a Bulldog.
"I am always looking to attack the rim, even if it is a zone or a man," Danberry said. "I am always trying to find my shot. Coach always talks to us about taking our shots, and that is what I do. I get to the rim."
As much as she provided a lift offensively, Danberry knows she likely will be called on to be a defensive presence Monday when MSU plays host to No. 9 seed Oklahoma City at 8 p.m. (ESPN2). Senior guard Loryn Goodwin and Jaden Hobbs, who had a career-high 27 points, likely will attract a lot of attention in MSU's scouting report.
Danberry said she would try to do what she did against Barrios and what she has done all season on defense against the Cowgirls. Danberry didn't play in the first game. She became eligible for MSU's next game against Little Rock, which came at the end of the first semester.
"He always emphasizes ball pressure, so I tried to make her counter move and not let her have a straight-line drive all of the time," Danberry said. "I knew I could trust my teammates to be in help and seal, so I just try to play my heart out and play hard on the ball and know that I will be getting a sub or my teammates will be there to help me."
Barrios was 6-for-15 from the field and finished with 14 points. Tykeria Williams led Nicholls (19-14) with 16 points. The Colonels shot 27.7 percent from the field, their second-lowest percentage of the season.
Positive spin for Nicholls
Nicholls coach DoBee Plaisance was upbeat following her team's largest margin of defeat this season.
Plaisance praised Schaefer and the entire Starkville community for embracing her team and making their whole travel party feel welcome in their first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
Unfortunately, the stay was short as MSU used a 33-11 second quarter to build a 54-24 halftime lead.
Plaisance, who emphasizes defense like Schaefer, credited the Bulldogs for their defense and ability to make things extremely tough on her players.
"When you look at the turnovers, not that it was too indicative of the score, but I am a very positive person and I am looking to pull the positives, we had 14 turnovers to their 16 turnovers," Plaisance said. "They were very tenacious, which we knew they were going to be -- stifling -- on defense. I can't even say it hurried our offense. It just hurried our offensive possessions, especially in the backcourt."
In addition to Danberry's early appearance, Chloe Bibby was the next off the bench for Vivians at the 8-minute, 11-second mark of the first quarter. Vivians returned at the 6:51 mark.
Jazzmun Holmes was soon to follow, too, replacing Morgan William with 5:11 to go in the opening quarter.
The substitutions continued in the second quarter, as freshman Nyah Tate replaced Teaira McCowan with 2:46 before halftime. Schaefer wasn't pleased with McCowan giving up and offensive rebound on the previous possession, so he went with the freshman from Terry.
MSU's crowd of 10,211 was the second-highest total of the first round.
MSU joined South Carolina, which had a crowd of 11,085 for its victory against North Carolina A&T on Friday at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina, as the only host sites to eclipse the 10,000 mark.
Louisville was third at 7,229. Connecticut had a crowd of 6,154 for its 140-52 victory against St. Francis on Saturday.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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