Q returns to lead Bulldogs over Beavers

By JOEL COLEMAN

sports@starkvilledailynews.com

Quinndary Weatherspoon’s season-ending wrist injury lasted less than two weeks. On Thursday night, Mississippi State’s star sophomore returned to the court for the first time since MSU announced on Nov. 21 that Weatherspoon would miss the rest of the year with a possible ligament tear in his left wrist. Playing though the injury just 10 days later, Weatherspoon looked better than ever as he helped the Bulldogs easily defeat Oregon State 74-57.

“He’s the ultimate team guy,” MSU head coach Ben Howland said of Weatherspoon. “He’s all about Mississippi State and his teammates. His toughness is just incredible.”

Weatherspoon scored a game-high 21 points to pace the Mississippi State attack. His biggest impact came in the first half when he scored 16 of his points and never missed a shot. Weatherspoon was 6-for-6 from the field in the opening half, including 4-for-4 from three-point range. Weatherspoon didn’t miss a shot all evening until he missed a 3-pointer with 17:59 left in the second half.

“The way he shot the ball in the first half, you would have thought he never missed a beat,” Howland said.

Weatherspoon almost didn’t get the chance to play so well on Thursday. Early last week, Weatherspoon was preparing for the worst after he was told the scapholunate ligament in his left wrist was torn. Surgery was scheduled for Wednesday of this week. On Tuesday night, Weatherspoon cancelled the procedure. His condition had improved to the point he was confident he could play through it.

“Eight days later (after the injury), he was asymptomatic,” Howland said of Weatherspoon. “He had great range of motion, great strength and flexibility. At the end of the day, he and his parents decided they wanted to try (playing though it).”

Weatherspoon says he’ll now play through the injury for as long as he can. If all goes perfectly, he’d decide after the season whether or not to have the surgery done. He has four games left in which he could play and still use a redshirt year this season should something go wrong that necessitates the procedure take place.

At least for one night though, all looked perfectly fine as Weatherspoon shined.

“It felt good,” Weatherspoon said of his injured wrist after the game. “I didn’t really feel that much pain. I felt one little pop. I don’t even remember what play it was, but after that, it was back to normal.”

The play of Weatherspoon spilled over and led to success for other Bulldogs. Mario Kegler scored 12 points. Tyson Carter and Lamar Peters each scored 10. Aric Holman tallied 7 with a team-high 7 rebounds.

“It was exciting to have (Weatherspoon back on the floor with us to do what he does,” Kegler said. “With him on the court, we all just come together and play.”

With Weatherspoon leading the way, the Bulldogs dominated all night. Holman dunked with 17:24 left in the first half to give MSU an early 4-3 lead. Mississippi State wouldn’t trail again the rest of the game. The Bulldogs stretched their advantage out to 45-19 by halftime.

MSU held serve in the second half. Oregon State was able to cut into the Bulldog lead a bit, getting to within 17 points with 3:45 left to play, but that was as close as the Beavers ever got as MSU cruised to the victory.

The Bulldogs will try to carry over the momentum on Sunday when Mississippi State hosts Georgia State in a 4 p.m. game. With Weatherspoon back sinking shots, MSU has a better outlook for Sunday’s game and all the ones to come.

“He’s our best player,” Howland said of Weatherspoon. “It’s pretty clear.”

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