Bulldogs Win Big In McCray-Penson’s Mississippi State Debut
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State rang in a new era Sunday, as the Bulldogs earned a wire-to-wire 88-58 victory against Jackson State in head coach Nikki McCray-Penson’s debut.
“I’m just thankful for them for getting this win,” said McCray-Penson. “It’s my first win here as the head coach at Mississippi State. They wanted it for me, but I wanted it for them. Our coaches did a great job of scouting. The credit doesn’t go to me. It goes to them. They did the work.”
Mississippi State (1-0) was originally slated to open the 2020-21 campaign at the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge, but the event was canceled earlier this week. The Bulldogs were able to schedule in-state foe and 2020 SWAC champion Jackson State at Humphrey Coliseum instead.
MSU’s high-scoring offense was back on display to begin the season, as all 10 Bulldogs that played scored at least two points. The squad knocked down 12 3-pointers in the game at .414 clip, sparking the offense during several runs in the contest. Overall, Mississippi State shot 41 percent from the floor for the game but was 50 percent or better from the field in two periods.
On the defensive side of the ball, State held JSU to 31 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers that led to 23 points for MSU. The Bulldogs recorded 10 steals and nine blocks to help keep Jackson State (0-1) from getting into a rhythm offensively.
State attacked the paint from the start, outscoring the Tigers 38-10 down low and winning the battle on the boards 55-41.
National Player of the Year candidate Rickea Jackson led all scorers with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks. JaMya Mingo-Young earned the second start of her career and finished with 13 points, a career-high nine rebounds, a career-best five assists and two steals.
Jessika Carter, a National Player of the Year candidate, added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting, five blocks and three rebounds. Myah Taylor posted an all-around performance with 11 points, seven assists, a career-high-tying five rebounds and four steals. She also knocked down a personal best three 3-pointers on the day.
Four Bulldogs made their Mississippi State debut on Sunday. Freshman Madison Hayes had a strong performance with eight points, nine rebounds, three assists and a steal. Sidney Cooks finished with eight points, four rebounds, two assists and a block while earning the start. Caterrion Thompson scored six points, while Charlotte Kohl had two points and three rebounds.
Mississippi State’s defense was the highlight of the first quarter, as the Bulldogs held Jackson State to 0-for-13 shooting from the field. State forced six turnovers and had three blocks and two steals in the frame. A pair of 3-pointers by Taylor late in the quarter helped MSU take a 14-4 lead early in the game.
The Tigers fought back to make it a two-possession game during the second stanza, but a 9-0 run quickly extended State’s lead back to double digits. The Bulldogs outscored Jackson State 26-15 in the period to take a 40-19 advantage into halftime.
Jackson led all scorers in the half with 12 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. Mingo-Young added eight points, five boards and two assists, while Carter chipped in eight points and two blocks.
The third quarter was all Mississippi State. The Bulldogs scored 34 points in the frame while shooting 63 percent from the floor and knocking down five 3-pointers to fuel the offense. Hayes scored eight points in the period, as MSU took a 74-33 lead. The Bulldogs cruised to the wire-to-wire victory despite a slow final frame and a 13-0 run by Jackson State to end the game.
Up next, Mississippi State will host New Orleans at Humphrey Coliseum on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on SEC Network+ as well as the MSU Radio Network.
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