A hard-fought SEC basketball battle took place at the Humphrey Coliseum on Thursday, where the Crimson Tide wrestled back from a 10-point deficit and handed the Mississippi State University Bulldogs their second loss of conference play.
The Bulldogs started the game off strong by going on a 10-2 run by 6:34 in the first quarter, but no lead was safe from the Crimson Tide as they fought and ended the quarter only down one point, a foreshadowing event of what was to come throughout the rest of the match. By the end of the first half the Bulldogs had a 10-point lead over the Tide, and Bulldog sophomore Rickea Jackson and junior Sidney Cooks were the scoring leaders with nine and seven points respectively.
The second half is where the Crimson Tide did most of their damage, ending with three of their players scoring at least 10 points. One of those players, Jordan Lewis, scored 19 in the second half and 22 in the game. Alabama's head coach Kristy Curry said she is very proud of her team's ability to battle back and win tough games.
"I'm just really proud of the tremendous toughness and character of our kids down the stretch to make plays. I thought that Jordan [Lewis] and Hannah [Barber] in our back court really controlled the tempo and made great decisions," Curry said. "We were fortunate to get Jordan a couple of looks."
The Bulldogs shot 47% from the floor and 39% from behind the stripe. Jackson scored 15 points and junior Myah Taylor also scored 15 points, nine of those points coming from deep. The Bulldogs scored when it was needed, but they were losing the rebound battle. This gave the Tide more chances to score. Winning the boards helped Alabama score 21 second chance points. Taylor said the Bulldogs just did not stick to the game plan, and that allowed the game to get away from them.
"I think the things we were doing in the first half we just didn't do in the second half. The game plan was to limit their threes, keep them off the free-throw line and limit their layups," Taylor said. "The first half we took away their layups, and the second half we didn't take away any of it. They attacked us hard in the second half, but we just need to learn how to just finish a game."
Bulldog Head Coach Nikki McCray-Penson said her team has to know the scouting report for 40 minutes, and they cannot let the game plan get away from them. McCray-Penson also said they are going to get to the root of their problems and prepare for their difficult schedule looming ahead.
"We have to come back as a group; that is the biggest thing. We have to talk about it as a team and as a staff, and we'll dissect this," McCray-Penson said. "We have to get ready for our game on Sunday against Texas A&M and be ready to regroup. It's part of our process."
The Bulldogs traveled to College Station, Texas, to face the Texas A&M Aggies, who were ranked no. 7 nationally leading up to that game. In Texas, the Aggies took the Bulldogs with a 69-41 win.
The Mississippi State University women's basketball team has a bit of a break to practice before their next game on Jan. 28, when the Bulldogs will face the South Carolina Gamecocks in Starkville.