Mississippi State University women’s basketball showed their grit and toughness in a 72-59 victory over the Auburn University Tigers Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Bulldogs were without both Anastasia Hayes and Denae Carter while facing another Southeastern Conference test in Starkvegas.
After falling behind the Tigers 3-2 early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs quickly shut down Auburn’s offense. With 4:57 remaining, the Bulldogs jumped ahead 11-3. MSU continued their defensive holdout of Auburn until 19 seconds remained when Aicha Coulibaly scored.
MSU closed out the quarter with a dominating 18-5 lead. Debreasha Powe’s seven points and Jessika Carter’s six points and six rebounds aided the Bulldogs’ strong first quarter.
The second quarter began with the Tigers fighting their way back into the game. In the first three minutes, the Tigers held the Bulldogs scoreless while tacking on five points and tightening the lead to eight. With 4:35 left in the half, MSU remained ahead 20-14, but the Bulldogs needed to find an answer to Auburn’s push.
In the last two minutes, Auburn committed two costly turnovers, and the Bulldogs took advantage by scoring four fast break points. MSU went into halftime 26-18 over the Tigers.
After the struggles in the second quarter, MSU opened the third quarter looking to regain their early success. Carter assisted in the Bulldogs’ attacks early, scoring six points in the first three minutes.
Despite scoring 10 points early, MSU’s lead depleted as Auburn’s offense was rolling. Auburn tied the game up 36-36 with 5:16 left. Seconds later, Auburn jumped ahead by one point.
Bulldogs head coach Sam Purcell discussed how he regrouped the team and spoke of the competition in the SEC.
“We talked about it; we watch a lot of film on them (Auburn) … I knew what was going to happen. That’s why I wasn’t thrown off … They’re good, and I keep saying it. That’s the hard thing,” Purcell said. “When you look at statistics and standings in the SEC, teams who haven’t gotten a win, there’s nothing easy about it … This league’s way too tough.”
The Bulldogs regained the lead temporarily, but Auburn continued their pursuit and took back the lead. Eventually, Auburn had a three-points over MSU. However, the Dawgs held on and knotted the game at 47-47 to end the quarter.
With one quarter left, both teams needed one final push to earn a win. At 9:08, Carter scored, giving MSU a two-point lead and, most importantly, a spark. The Bulldogs dialed up their offensive attack while shutting down Auburn’s offensive success from the third quarter.
MSU’s JerKaila Jordan talked about Carter’s shot and the momentum it gave her.
“We knew she was going to take it. She shoots — just crash,” Jordan said. “…That shot definitely brought my momentum up. It definitely brought my head up.”
A comeback was in sight for Auburn, but MSU outscored Auburn 25-11 in the final quarter to seal the deal. The Bulldogs’ fourth-quarter surge secured them a 72-58 victory.
Carter’s 24 points and 11 rebounds, Jordan’s 14 points and 12 rebounds and the double-digit performances of Ahlana Smith and Asianae Johnson highlighted the win for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs improved to 14-5 (3-3) on the season and host the University of Kentucky Sunday at noon. That game will be streamed live on the SEC Network.