VICTORIA, British Columbia (AP) — Jordan Danberry scored 21 points, Rikea Jackson and Chloe Bibby added 18 apiece and No. 10 Mississippi State beat Green Bay 83-58 in semifinal action at the Greater Victoria Invitational on Friday night.
Contrary to the lopsided score, the game was close for three quarters before the Bulldogs took control in the fourth quarter.
“The second half, our defensive pressure just wore them down,” said Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer.
Frankie Wurtz, who led Green Bay with 12 points, corroborated Schaefer’s assessment.
“I felt like we battled really hard for the first 2 1/2 quarters and then we kind of let their pressure dictate what we did,” said Wurtz.
Anna Dier added 11 points for Green Bay.
“We just competed,” said Danberry. “They’re a great team. They come out with a lot of energy, have a great program and a great coach, but we had to keep (our foot) on the gas.”
The Bulldogs (8-0), led by dynamic guard Danberry, have not had much trouble producing points this season.
Green Bay (4-3), on the other hand, is traditionally known for defense. And, after a slow start, the Phoenix managed to live up to it — while also showing some offensive flair at times.
“I thought, for the most part, we played hard when we needed to against a good team,” said Green Bay coach Kevin Borseth.
True to form, the Bulldogs dominated in the early going, but Green Bay rallied to trail by just four points, 21-17, at the end of the first quarter. Then the teams spent much of the second quarter exchanging the lead as the Phoenix received some timely 3-pointers.
As a result, the Bulldogs went into their half only leading 38-36. But Green Bay’s defense was not as efficient in the third quarter, and its offense struggled, too as Mississippi State outscored the Wisconsin school 22-12 in the period and built a 60-48 advantage.
“We couldn’t score,” said Borseth. “We only scored 12 points in the third quarter.”
Capitalizing on turnovers, the Bulldogs stretched their lead early in the fourth quarter and cruised the rest of the way.
Borseth said inexperience was also a factor. Due to the injuries, he has been working primarily with eight players and players were put in unfamiliar situations against one of the top teams in the country – but still showed well.
Mississippi State: The defending SEC-champion Bulldogs continue to roll along in the young season and display signs of being ready to shine again in conference play.
Green Bay: The Phoenix have built a reputation for defense but also are showing that they can compete offensively when required.
TOUGH ON DEFENSE
Green Bay has built a reputation for tough defense. The Phoenix ranked fourth in the nation in defense in 2018-19, allowing 51.9 points per game. The season before, Green Bay was at the top of the country’s defensive class as opposing teams produced an average 47.4 points per game against it.
POPULAR WITH POLLSTERS
For the 12th straight preseason, pollsters pegged Green Bay as the favorite to win the Horizon League title.
Mississippi State qualified for Saturday’s final against the winner of the other semifinal between No. 3 Stanford and Syracuse.
Green Bay will play for third place against the loser of the Stanford-Syracuse contest.