A 42-point difference in points in the paint helped push the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs pass Louisiana-Lafayette Monday night.
The Lady Bulldogs out-scored the Lady Cajuns 48-6 in the paint in a 72-38 victory.
Lady Bulldog head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wanted her team to get a lot of touches in the paint to control the game.
“Some of that came off of transition from steals or passing into the paint or driving to create space in the paint,” Fanning-Otis said. "We did a good job of getting to the rim. Points in the paint and touches in the paint are huge. The paint is an important area.”
Senior forward Ashley Brown was the main reason the Lady Bulldogs controlled the paint. She collected 15 points for the night.
“It was wide open,” Brown said. Help rotated over and it left me wide open. Our guards drove the ball and dished it tonight helping create that space in the paint. We saw it tonight and took advantage of it.”
Senior guard Diamber Johnson was happy to see Brown step up and lead the team in scoring. Johnson believes Brown’s play is something they need down the stretch.
“It's great,” Johnson said of Brown. “She is going to get her rebounds and points. She is that sneaky player we need for down the stretch.”
Senior guard Porsha Porter was also glad to see Brown active in the middle.
“She brought energy for points and rebounds tonight,” said Porter, who scored 13 points and is averaging 20.3 points in her last three games.
Martha Alwal kept the Lady Cajuns from scoring in the paint with five blocks.
The Lady Bulldogs never trailed and opened the game on a 16-0 run.
Alwal and Brown counted for 10 of those points to establish dominance down low. Playing 40 solid minutes is something Fanning-Otis has been waiting to see from her squad all year.
“We played hard and stay focused as a team and never let up,” Fanning-Otis said.
Johnson saw her teammates focused and ready to take control of the game. She was glad her team pushed through being tired in the second half.
“We were focused on our game plan,” Johnson said. “We just played our game. We were tired but we pushed through and that is how we want to play.”
The Lady Bulldogs held the Lady Cajuns to 21.7 percent from the field and 30 percent
from 3-point territory. MSU shot 44.9 percent from the field but only made 3-of-17 3-pointers. The Lady Bulldogs also forced 27 turnovers.
Johnson recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. She passed Alexis Rack for 10th all-time in assists at Mississippi State with 295. That record was something Johnson was not focusing on.
“I did not,” Johnson said of knowing about breaking the record. “I was at six at halftime so I came out in the second half with the my goal being to get 10.”
Fanning-Otis has seen Johnson develop into an important player for her squad and was proud of how she handled the game.
“She was directing traffic and finding people,” Fanning-Otis said. “She responded well after I called that timeout early in the second half and handled the pressure. That leadership is very important.”
Fanning-Otis still wants to get five players in double figures but she was happy to see her three leaders step up and achieve that feat for themselves.
“We still got to get five in double figures but we had three and I will take that,” Fanning-Otis said.
The lone Lady Cajun to score in double figures was Laurie Beaty with 11 points.
The Lady Bulldogs will be back in action on Dec. 29 when they travel to Reno, Nevada, to take on Oklahoma in the University of Nevada Tournament.