By PAUL JONES Associated Press
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State used a dominating defensive showing and balanced scoring attack to move past ULM 62-45 on Thursday at Humphrey Coliseum.
Reggie Perry had 14 points and 14 rebounds to lead four Bulldogs in double digits. It marked the second consecutive double-double for Perry, who also had three assists and two steals. Robert Woodard had 13 points for the Bulldogs (3-0) while Iverson Molinar and D.J. Stewart each had 10 points.
“I thought we played really good basketball,” said Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland. “Our defense was very effective against a team that had Texas A&M down by eight points in College Station, Texas. We did an especially good job on their guards and both were returning all-league players in their conference.
“It was a really good effort and we forced them into 17 turnovers. And we only turned it over four times in the first half.”
JD Williams led the Warhawks (2-2) with 14 points. Chris Efretuei and Michael Ertel each had 10 points for Louisiana-Monroe, which dropped its second straight game.
Perry has been dominant on the boards, totaling 28 rebounds in the last two games. The sophomore forward had 10 points and nine rebounds in the first half.
“It definitely felt good to get off to a good start,” said Perry. “Coach Howland harped on that in practice and then I wanted to keep it going in the second half. I tried to focus and be under control.”
ULM made a run at Mississippi State in the early minutes of the second half. Williams knocked down a 3 pointer with 11:13 remaining in the game to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to just 46-37. But the Bulldogs exploded for a 15-4 run over the next seven minutes to grab control at 61-41 and were never threatened the rest of the way.
For the game, ULM shot just 35.3 percent and made just 26.9 percent beyond the arc. The Warhawks were just 4 of 12 at the charity stripe, as well. The Bulldogs shot 40.8 percent and made 19 of 30 at the free throw line. Mississippi State also held a 41-32 advantage in rebounding and had 13 offensive boards.
“Give them a ton of credit, the way they played defensively,” said Louisiana-Monroe head coach Keith Richard. “We struggled all night, offensively, but it was due to their play. We had a hard time getting by them off the dribble and a hard time with some of their pressure in the half court.
“They were very physical, too. They have a chance to be elite, defensively, with all that length. Their team has the chance to be that kind of team.”
Mississippi State led for the majority of the first half and continued to build on the lead throughout. The Bulldogs closed out the half on a 13-3 run, sparked by Robert Woodard’s 3 pointer right before the halftime buzzer.
Mississippi State shot just 43.3 percent in the first half but made 11 of 15 at the free throw line. The Bulldogs also held a 21-13 rebounding advantage in the opening half, including 10 offensive rebounds.
Louisiana-Monroe shot 41.7 percent in the first half and had eight turnovers. The Warhawks were just 1 of 4 at the charity stripe in the opening 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs are now 31-1 under Howland when holding the opponent under 50 points. Mississippi State has also won 25 consecutive nonconference games at home.
Louisiana-Monroe: The Warhawks concluded a brief run against a pair of SEC programs in Mississippi State and Texas A&M. Louisiana-Monroe dropped a six-point decision at Texas A&M earlier this week and do not have any other Power 5 teams on the regular-season schedule.
Mississippi State: Senior Tyson Carter averaged 25.5 points in the first two games but on Thursday, other Bulldogs got involved on the offensive end. Carter had just six points against Louisiana-Monroe but the Bulldogs still have four with double digits.
Louisiana-Monroe: The Warhawks return home next week and host Northwestern State on Tuesday.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs close out a season-opening four-game homestand on Sunday, hosting New Orleans.