MSU Falls at No. 1 South Carolina to Open SEC Play
Published 1:10 pm Monday, January 3, 2022
COLUMBIA, S.C. – After a pair of postponements for both Mississippi State and South Carolina, State opened SEC play on the road at No. 1 South Carolina on Sunday, falling to the top-ranked Gamecocks, 80-68.
Anastasia Hayes was outstanding in her return to the lineup. The senior led the way for the Bulldogs with 15 points on 6-14 shooting. Hayes also added five boards and one assist to her totals. Joining Hayes in double-figures was Myah Taylor (15), Rickea Jackson (14) and JerKaila Jordan (16). Denae Carter led the Bulldogs on the glass with a team-high eight rebounds. This was Carter’s seventh game leading the team in rebounds and fourth straight. Aislynn Hayes provided a spark off the bench with four points and four rebounds. Taylor led the team lead in steals with five and Jordan swiped four herself.
Mississippi State was 11-for-12 (91%) from the charity stripe on the night. State forced South Carolina to commit 18 turnovers, 12 steals, and turning those turnovers into 18 points. The Bulldogs scored 44 points in the paint, with 14 coming on the fastbreak. The NCAA’s top two shot-blocking teams each recorded four blocked shots in the contest.
Despite traveling to South Carolina the day of the game, Mississippi State battled hard in the first half. The Bulldogs led the top-ranked Gamecocks 12-10 early before South Carolina scored 11 straight points.
State battled back in the second frame, opening the quarter on a 13-4 run to tie the game at 27 all before the Gamecocks went into the locker room with a 10-point advantage thanks in part to a 6-0 run to close out the second quarter. South Carolina extended their lead in the third frame with an 11-2 run before closing out the game with the 80-68 victory.
The game was initially scheduled for Feb. 6 and was moved up over a month after both teams had an open date due to Covid-19 protocols for their originally scheduled opponents. The sudden rescheduling of games forced the Bulldogs to travel to Columbia, S.C. the same afternoon of the game.
Quoting Coach Novak
On building off this game
“I think everybody just gets a little more serious when conference play comes. The focus narrows and every practice means a little bit more to the kids. I think we had their attention for the small amount of time that we were able to prepare for this game. We didn’t have our centers to practice with since Christmas, and they just got cleared yesterday. We started Denae Carter and she did a great job because she really had just been sitting out for the last 10 days not practicing with us, the same thing for Raven Farley. So, I thought they competed well, did the best they could, and did as much with their mind as anything else because they didn’t quite have the lungs they would normally have.”
On the last 24-48 hours
“We started out saying ‘Oh, no, are you kidding me?’ We had no prep, we’re getting on an airplane and we’re playing right away. Then we flipped it because we have to. We’re all adults here and by the time we were ready to play, we were pretty excited. If I were to grade our team, I would give them an ‘A’ on that. They did a really nice job. No fake or false bravado beforehand – we knew this was going to be a challenge. It was more like a realistic attack on things that we could control. We could control a little bit on how we were going to guard that post. We could control how we were going to space the floor and make them guard Anastasia Hayes in the middle of the floor. I was really proud of our team in that aspect.”
Mississippi State will be back on the road Thursday when they make the short trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tip-off vs the Crimson Tide is scheduled for 6 p.m.