Bulldogs Fall To No. 4 South Carolina, 75-52
STARKVILLE – Three players finished with double-digit scoring for Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs fell to No. 4 South Carolina, 75-52, at Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday night.
“I feel like we’re moving in the right direction,” said head coach Nikki McCray-Penson. “Our kids continue to come in and work. We had a great week of practice. Again, I’m really proud of them. They’re coming in and working. It doesn’t feel good to be on a three-game losing streak, but these are all things that we can correct. As coaches, we stay up and spend countless hours watching film. We just have to execute. For us, this is a new season. Yes, we didn’t get the win, but we have to be us. We’re winners. We have to get back to our winning ways, but it starts on the defensive end.”
Rickea Jackson led the team with 15 points and six rebounds in the contest, while Jessika Carter posted 12 points, 10 boards and three blocks in her sixth double-double of the season. Myah Taylor added 10 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals to round things out.
Mississippi State (8-5, 3-4 SEC) had some bright spots on defense. The Bulldogs held SC to less than 30 percent shooting from the field during two quarters. State also finished with six blocks and six steals while forcing 13 turnovers. Offensively, MSU struggled to get into a consistent groove, shooting 34 percent from the floor, 21 percent from beyond the arc and 33 percent from the charity stripe.
South Carolina (13-1, 8-0 SEC) dominated the paint all night, outscoring MSU down low 44-28 and outrebounding the Bulldogs 51-38. The Gamecocks snagged 18 offensive boards, which resulted in 21 second-chance points. SC capitalized at the free throw line, knocking down 19 of its 22 attempts from the charity stripe.
The first quarter was a defensive battle between both squads, but a pair of baskets and six boards by Carter helped the Bulldogs take an early 11-10 lead. State forced six turnovers in the period and outrebounded the Gamecocks 14-12. South Carolina opened the second stanza with a quick 8-0 run, forcing MSU to call timeout. The Gamecocks wouldn’t slow down any, outscoring MSU 26-12 in the frame and shooting 52 percent from the field.
Mississippi State had a slow start offensively, connecting on just 29 percent of its shots in the first half while turning the ball over nine times. Carter and Taylor both chipped in six points to help keep the offense from going stagnant, but the Gamecocks were able to take a 36-23 advantage into the break.
The Bulldogs had a strong third quarter, shooting 50 percent from the field while holding SC to just 25 percent shooting. However, the Gamecocks were able to capitalize at the charity stripe, going 10-of-11 in the frame, to prevent State from cutting into the double-digit deficit. Jackson had nine points in the stanza. South Carolina entered the final frame with a 54-41 lead.
State was unable to close the gap in the fourth period as the Gamecocks outscored the Bulldogs 21-11 while shooting 53 percent from the floor.
Up next, Mississippi State will host the Tennessee Lady Vols on Thursday, Feb. 4, for a 7 p.m. tip. The game will be streamed on SEC Network+ and the MSU Radio Network.