Mississippi State women take down Ole Miss

Published 8:53 am Monday, January 15, 2024

STARKVILLE — Some outstanding defense down the stretch and an excellent shooting touch by Jessika Carter sent round one of the Magnolia State rivalry to Mississippi State.

Carter finished with 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting, and Mississippi State held Ole Miss scoreless over the final 5:52 to win 69-57 on Sunday in the first of two women’s basketball games between the in-state rivals this season.

The Bulldogs (15-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) won their second game in a row, and snapped a two-game losing streak in the series with Ole Miss (12-5, 2-2).

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“Rivalries are big everywhere. The first day I committed they were just like, ‘We want you to beat Ole Miss.’ I came in with that mindset like we want to beat Ole Miss because it’s a big rivalry around here,” said Mississippi State guard Lauren Park-Lane, who had 13 points and a team-high eight assists.

Carter has 45 points and 24 rebounds in the Bulldogs’ last two games, after only topping 20 points once in the first 17 games. She scored a total of 14 points in the first two SEC contests, which were losses to Vanderbilt and South Carolina.

“Best post player in the country. I’ve been saying it, but it was only a matter of time before she believes it,” MSU head coach Sam Purcell said. “Every time we’re in a tough situation she speaks, she repeats, when adversity hits her character comes out through the roof. She’s like, ‘Uh-uh, not tonight, we’re winning this game.’ You can’t put a price tag on that.”

Mississippi State trailed 51-49 entering the fourth quarter, but owned the closing stretch of the game.

A layup by Carter with 8:51 left put the Bulldogs ahead 55-53, and their defense clamped down over the last six minutes. Marquesha Davis’ jumper with 5:52 remaining was Ole Miss’ last basket of the game.

The Rebels went 0-for-8 from the field and 0-for-2 at the free throw line as Mississippi State closed on a 9-0 run. Ole Miss was 1-for-12 from the field in the fourth quarter, after shooting 46.7 percent through the first three.

“We know when it comes down to these close games it’s going to rely on defense, not offense,” Park-Lane said. “We kept harping on, ‘Get a stop, get a stop, get a stop,’ because that will carry over into our offense, which it did tonight.”

Carter and Park-Lane were the only Mississippi State players to score in double figures, but Debreasha Powe and Jerkaila Jordan scored eight points apiece. Erynn Barnum had seven points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Davis led Ole Miss with 19 points. Snudda Collins scored 12, and Rita Igbokwe finished with six points and 10 rebounds.

Ole Miss will return to action Jan. 21 at Georgia, with a noon start. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Mississippi State will host Tennessee Thursday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

Ole Miss and State will play each other again Feb. 18 in Oxford.

“This is a great win for our fans. It’s a great SEC win,” Purcell said. “But this can’t define the rest of our season. We’ve got to remain hungry. We’ll celebrate tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”