Novak and crew secure big win over SDSU

Mississippi State University guard Aislynn Hayes takes a shot during the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

The Mississippi State University women's basketball team faced South Dakota State University on Friday in Humphrey Coliseum where the Bulldogs took a 76-71 win.

The Dawgs trailed for the first half of the match, with SDSU leading 16-15 in the first quarter and 23-16 in the second. This left the Bulldogs at a 31-39 entry into the third.

The eight-point deficit was not too much for the ladies in maroon to overcome. They emerged from the locker room into the second half of the game with more fight than they showed in the first.

Head coach Doug Novak shared the reasoning behind the comeback strategy of the team, primarily a stronger defensive effort that was discussed over the halftime chat.

"(We made) no major adjustments, to be honest with you, other than I didn't feel like South Dakota had seen our best," Novak shared after the game. "It's what I had anticipated coming in – they are a top-tier basketball program with great coaching."

Rickea Jackson, a junior forward from Detroit, Michigan, led the team in points for the game, getting fired up in the second half. She ended the night with 23 points in 39 minutes of playing time.

Following Jackson, sophomore guard JerKaila Jordan from New Orleans, Louisiana, pulled out 17 points against the Jackrabbits.

Jordan has a strong ability to aid in the scoring of her teammate and fellow guard Myah Taylor, a senior from Olive Branch, Mississippi. She shared a bit about their friendship that helps them on the court.

"We spend time outside, off the court. But I know how much Myah loves her assists, so I just try my best, you know, just finish it for her to get her assist up," Jordan shared post-game. 

Another high scorer and performer from the night is redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes. The Murfreesboro, Tennessee, native put up 14 points Friday night and attributes her efforts to being observant and aware of South Dakota's defense.

"I mean they were clogging the paint a lot and so I just read the defense. If the lane's clear, take it. If it's not, pull it out, look for my teammates. And, you know, I just play my role here. That's all I do: play my role, do all I can for us to get the win," Hayes said.

Taking over in the second half and controlling South Dakota's defensive efforts as well as their own really pushed MSU ahead for the win.

This differs from their last match against Alabama State University. In that match, the Dawgs were ahead of the Yellow Jackets for all four quarters.

After the events of Friday night's game, head coach Novak spoke about the crowd's role in encouraging his players to keep up their work ethic.

"You know, that crowd really helps, and you make a couple baskets or steals and I think this city appreciates work ethic. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out," Novak shared about Starkville. "And so we keep working like that – win or lose – and this is a great place to play."

Coming up for the Dawgs are matches with Alcorn State University on Nov. 14 and Bethune-Cookman University on Nov. 22, before their games at the Daytona Beach Invitational starting on Nov. 25.

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