Jordan Danberry wasn't on the floor the last time the Mississippi State women's basketball team played at the Jack Stephens Center.
But the Bulldogs' junior guard heard plenty about the small margin of victory from Coach Vic Schaefer leading up to Wednesday night's return.
"He told us it's a battle here," said Danberry, a Conway native who transferred from the University of Arkansas to Mississippi State.
On Dec. 13, 2016, UALR pushed a team destined for the national title game well into the fourth quarter of a 58-44 loss in Little Rock. The Trojans trailed just 38-34 entering the fourth.
UALR tested Mississippi State again Wednesday -- at least for one quarter. A Trojans' spurt gave them a lead early in the second quarter, but the No. 6 Bulldogs stormed back for a 98-63 victory in front of an announced crowd of 2,261.
It wasn't until Mississippi State's litany of post players took over did the game go the way most would expect. UALR's 63 points were the most against Mississippi State (7-0) this year, but the Trojans (3-4) also gave up 60 points in the paint and were outrebounded 50-22. Teaira McCowan, a 6-7 senior, led Mississippi State with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
"Too much size, size, size," UALR Coach Joe Foley said. "You can't tell your girls to go to 6-7 all at once. Ain't going to happen."
Despite the result, Foley found positives. He liked the offensive energy to start the game, the 7-0 run to end the first quarter with a 14-13 lead, the steal and breakaway basket by Antwainette Walker that made it 16-13, the way guard Sydney Chastain handled the Bulldogs' press, and the 21 points from guard Kyra Collier.
Schaefer, who agreed to play a four-year, home-and-home series against UALR, expected such an effort from the Trojans.
"You just have to know what you're getting into coming over here," he said. "Those kids are going to compete. They're not scared. It's why we play. I like to play them. I know it's going to be a good game. It's going to make us better."
Schaefer said Tuesday's practice was his team's worst of the season, and he didn't think his players were focused when the game began, either. It showed when they went the final 2:46 of the first quarter without scoring, as Teal Battle, Yanina Inkina, Collier and Chastain each scored to give UALR a 14-13 lead.
The game turned early in the second quarter when McCowan scored eight points to help Mississippi State take a 44-30 halftime lead. The lead grew to as much as 96-56 in the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs' string of four consecutive games eclipsing 100 points was snapped.
Danberry finished with 10 points for Mississippi State, while also holding Collier to six points on 2-of-8 shooting in the second half.
Bre'Amber Scott, a freshman from Little Rock Central, added 13 points for the Bulldogs, who shot 57.4 percent.
Walker scored 14 points for UALR, while Inkina had 11. The Trojans were held to 38.6 percent shooting, but their 13 turnovers were the fewest committed by a Bulldogs' opponent this year.
"I thought we handled their pressure real well," Foley said. "I thought we got good shots. I thought we stayed under control, and I was wondering if we could do that against that good of a defense."
Foley recognizes there is work to be done defensively through the remaining five nonconference games. The good news, Foley said, is that Wednesday highlighted just how far they need to go.
"That's a good thing that they're seeing it," he said. "If we were playing weak teams and winning, they wouldn't be getting that. It'll pay off for us."
UALR guard Antwainette Walker (13) is fouled by Mississippi State guard Bre’Amber Scott during the Trojans’ loss to the No. 6 Bulldogs on Wednesday night at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock.
Sports on 11/29/2018
Print Headline: Reality sets in: UALR's second-quarter lead vanishes quickly