The Mississippi State University women’s basketball team gave a valiant defensive effort in Sunday afternoon’s 51-58 loss to No. 1 University of South Carolina.

After a tough road loss to the University of Tennessee Volunteers, the Bulldogs put the nation’s top team to the test Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum. Mississippi State held South Carolina to just 58 points, the lowest South Carolina has scored in a single game all season. The Gamecocks also had their lowest field goal percentage of the season (30.3%). 

Guard JerKaila Jordan led the Bulldogs in scoring with 13 points in the contest. Forward Jessika Carter had a strong defensive performance, posting nine rebounds, two steals and four blocks to go with her 11 points in the game.

MSU began the game with a strong performance in the first quarter. The Bulldogs shot 50% from the floor in the quarter and kept South Carolina’s offense in check. Guard Anastasia Hayes played a big role with seven points in the quarter. The first quarter ended with MSU up 19-12.

South Carolina bounced back in the second quarter, tying the score at 23 with 6:52 to play in the half before taking a two-point lead off a jump shot from guard Raven Johnson. MSU regained the lead after a three-pointer by Debreasha Powe, only to have that lead snatched away by the Gamecocks 25 seconds later. The Bulldogs were outscored 7-20 in the second quarter and trailed 26-32 at halftime.

In the third quarter, MSU kept within striking distance. Despite falling behind by as many as nine points, the Bulldogs fought back to get within a point of the Gamecocks with 2:49 left in the quarter. Unfortunately for MSU, South Carolina was able to halt the Bulldogs’ momentum, ending the quarter on a 6-0 run. After three quarters, MSU trailed 36-43.

In the fourth quarter, Carter scored nine points for the Dawgs. Carter’s contributions were not enough to create any late-game momentum for MSU. The Dawgs fell 51-58.

With the loss, Mississippi State falls to 12-5 overall with a 1-3 record in SEC play. South Carolina remains undefeated at 16-0 overall with a 4-0 record in SEC play.

Despite the loss (and a rocky start to SEC play so far), the Bulldogs are staying optimistic.

Carter said she thought her team did well carrying out their game plan on defense.

“With this game, we just wanted to make them shoot outside shots so we can box out and get the rebound. I feel like we executed very well. I feel like, for us, for (coach Purcell) to put in a new defense, we did what he wanted us to do,” Carter said.

Carter was not the only one looking on the bright side after the loss. Head coach Sam Purcell spoke highly of the fight he has seen in his team.

“I got to give a lot of love to my team. I have some great young women too. They are battling and fighting. I’ve been bringing it up the last two weeks; don’t give up on them.” Purcell said.

The Bulldogs will get a week to prepare for their upcoming contest against Texas A&M University. The Bulldogs will face the Aggies in Bryan-College Station, Texas, Sunday, January 15 at 2 p.m. CT. MSU has won eight of the last 10 meetings against the Aggies.

Things have been tough for the Mississippi State women’s basketball team since the start of SEC play. However, Powe said the Bulldogs are continuing to persevere.

 “We say we have to stick together, and that’s what we’re doing” Powe said. “We’re actually really proud of (each other), so I feel like if we stick together and keep coming to the gym and working hard, we’re going to be just fine."

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