Bulldogs down Auburn, end losing streak

Dalton Middleton, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo
·3 min read

Feb. 24—STARKVILLE — It didn't come easy, but the Mississippi State women's basketball team won its first game since January 10.

Mississippi State beat Auburn, 81-68, at the Humphrey Coliseum on Tuesday night. The win breaks a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, which have played only three game in the month of February.

Mississippi State (9-7, 4-6 in SEC) trailed Auburn (8-16, 0-13) by as much as 10 points in the first half and by six points at halftime, but outscored the Tigers by 13 points in the third quarter and never looked back.

Four players scored in double-digits for the Bulldogs. Rickea Jackson led with 20 points, while Jessika Carter scored 17, Aliyah Matharu scored 15, and Myah Taylor added 12.

"I just feel like now we can relax and get back to us," Taylor said. "We knew what was at stake tonight and we just needed a win. This is a starting point for us. We still have a long way to go, but it has to start somewhere and I think it started tonight."

With a size advantage against the Tigers, Mississippi State started the game with a larger lineup than usual. Sidney Cooks, who stands at 6-foot-4, started the game in place of Matharu.

Cooks, along with 6-foot-5 Carter, were the only Bulldogs to score in the opening 10 minutes. They combined for 15 points and Auburn led Mississippi State 18-15 at the end of the first quarter.

Auburn pushed its lead to 10 points in the second quarter, but Matharu drained back-to-back 3-pointers and Taylor added one of her own to cut the lead to one point. Auburn led 32-36 at halftime.

The Bulldogs used a 6-0 run in the first two minutes of the third quarter to tie the game, 42-42. Following two three-point plays by Matharu and Taylor, the Bulldogs took a 53-48 lead after a steal and layup by JaMya Mingo-Young.

MSU led 57-50 heading into the fourth quarter.

"We just started slow," head coach Nikki McCray-Penson said. "It's taken the kids a minute to get going. Turnovers set the tone for that in the first half. We talked about that and in the second half, we got a little more aggressive with pressing and turning them over. I thought that was a difference maker."

The Bulldogs led by as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but Auburn's Honesty Scott-Grayson was able to cut the lead to three points, 67-64, with 5:22 left in the game. Scott-Grayson led all scorers with 24 points.

Matharu then hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back to six points, and Carter and Jackson combined for five points to put Mississippi State up, 75-64, with 3:15 left.

Mississippi State will play at LSU on Thursday at 6 p.m. on the SECNetwork+.

dalton.middleton@djournal.com