Taylor Posts Career Night In Loss At Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Myah Taylor finished with a career night, but a late second-half rally by Mississippi State came up just short against No. 18 Arkansas, 86-80, at Bud Walton Arena on Thursday night.
Taylor posted 22 points and six rebounds, both of which marked career highs for the Nancy Leiberman Award finalist. She also added seven assists and one steal in the game, while shooting 50 percent from the floor and knocking down a personal-best five 3-pointers.
Aliyah Matharu earned the start and dropped 17 points behind three 3-pointers and added three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Rickea Jackson recorded 14 points and seven boards, while Jessika Carter chipped in 11 points of her own to round out the double-digit scorers.
“First of all, I want to say I’m very proud of our team because we could have folded in the second half,” said head coach Nikki McCray-Penson. “I talked to our team about how that was the type of effort that we needed. This team believed that we could win. We prepped to win. What changed in the second half was that we told them they have been kicking our practice players butts, so don’t be timid against this team. Come out and be aggressive. When we turned it up, we turned it up. I thought the third quarter was some of the best defensive effort that I’ve seen out of this team up to date.
“I said that I thought we’d be playing some of our better basketball in February. Tonight was an example of that on both ends of the floor. I’m really proud of our effort. We didn’t quit. We didn’t give up. We believed that we could win this game. If we can just get some things back here and there. There were a few turnovers in the first half and the ball didn’t bounce our way. We’re only going to continue to get better and grow from here.”
Mississippi State (8-6, 3-5 SEC) knocked down 12 3-pointers in the contest and assisted on 16 of its 31 baskets to fuel the offense. However, 18 turnovers hurt the Bulldogs and led to 23 points for the Razorbacks (15-7, 5-6 SEC). Arkansas was able to win the scoring battle in the paint, 40-34, and converted at the charity stripe, knocking down 17-of-21 (81 percent) from the free throw line.
Destiny Slocum posted a game-high 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting to lead Arkansas’ offense, while Chelsea Dungee added 22 points of her own.
After Taylor knocked down a couple of 3-pointers to begin the first quarter, Arkansas rattled off a 14-0 run to take a quick lead and forced MSU to call a timeout. Taylor would finish with nine points, three rebounds and two assists in the period to fuel State, but Slocum had 12 points in the frame to give the Razorbacks a 26-16 advantage.
State was able to cut Arkansas’ lead to six points halfway through the second stanza, but turnovers and fouls kept the Bulldogs from getting any momentum. At halftime, MSU had turned the ball over 13 times, which led to 15 points for Arkansas. The Razorbacks were also a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe and had 18 points in the paint to take a 48-35 lead into halftime.
Mississippi State came out hot to begin the third period, using an 11-4 run to begin the second half to force Arkansas to call a timeout. During the stretch, MSU forced four turnovers that led to eight points on the other end. The Bulldogs continued to fight to cut the deficit to four points by the end of the quarter at 62-58. Carter had eight points in the stanza, while Matharu sank a couple of threes to add eight points of her own.
MSU was able to pull within one-possession multiple times during the final frame, but Arkansas had the hot hand, shooting 60 percent from the field and making five of its final six shots to end the game. Matharu had a chance to tie the game with 20 seconds left, but the shot just missed the mark and went to Arkansas. For the game, State shot 49 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three, while the Razorbacks shot 58 percent from the field.
Up next, Mississippi State will head to Oxford to take on in-state rival Ole Miss on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs have won 14-straight games in the series, including a 60-56 victory at home earlier in the season. The game will be televised on SEC Network and streamed on the MSU Radio Network.
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