STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team brought back the Teddy Bear Toss on Wednesday night, an annual Humphrey Coliseum tradition. Fans that brought a stuffed animal to donate received free admission and could toss the donations on the court at halftime. Such a cuddly welcome did not await the visiting McNeese State Cowgirls, as the Bulldogs topped the Cowgirls 102-55, marking the first time the Bulldogs have topped the century mark this season.
MSU scored at will in the first quarter, and the Bulldog defense held the Cowgirls at bay. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 12-0 lead and held the Cowgirls scoreless until sophomore guard Kyla Hamilton managed a layup for McNeese State at the 6:07 mark of the first quarter.
MSU immediately went on a 16-0 run and built a 28-2 advantage in the first seven minutes of play. The Bulldogs led 32-9 after the first quarter, with junior forward Rickea Jackson pouring in 13 points in the period. MSU kept momentum in the second quarter, scoring runs of 6-0, 9-0 and 9-0 and dominating McNeese State 24-8 for the period and an impressive 56-17 halftime lead. The Bulldogs’ offensive rhythm seemed effortless, and ball-sharing was the name of the game.
MSU shooting remained hot in the third quarter, as the Bulldogs added 28 points. The Cowgirls (3-4) managed to pour in four 3-pointers in this period and scored 20 points in the frame.
Both teams put in 18 points in the final quarter, with the breezy nature of the final period giving interim head coach Doug Novak perhaps something to be critical of in a game that the Bulldogs (6-1) dominated so thoroughly. MSU scored 76 points in the paint to 28 for McNeese State, and the Bulldogs dominated fast-break scoring by a margin of 21-3.
Jackson, a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection, had an incredible night, scoring a career-high 40 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman forward Denae Carter was a beast on the boards, grabbing 14 rebounds (eight offensive) and netting 11 points. Redshirt senior guard Myah Taylor dished out 10 assists and snagged eight steals. Redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes contributed across the board, scoring 15 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and giving seven assists.
For the Cowgirls, sophomore guard Zuzanna Kulinska and Hamilton led the scoring with 17 and 10 points, respectively, while junior forward Divine Tanks grabbed 10 rebounds.
MSU performed well in a bounce-back game from the recent loss to No. 12 Michigan. The Bulldogs’ free throw shooting continues to be a concern, as the team shot only 7-for-14 for the contest from the charity stripe.
Next up: MSU goes on the road in the Big 12/SEC Challenge to face the Oklahoma Sooners. The broadcast from Norman, Oklahoma, will be Saturday at 2 p.m. CT on the Bally Sports Oklahoma network. The Sooners hold a 6-1 record, with their single loss coming to the No. 18 Oregon Ducks.