OXFORD, Miss. — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team was stifled by the Ole Miss Rebels’ full-court pressure on Sunday, falling behind early and losing 86-71.
The Rebels broke a streak of 14 victories by MSU in the series, dominating the glass by a 43-23 margin and forcing 17 Bulldog turnovers. The Bulldogs were shorthanded for the third straight game, only having eight players available. While Southeastern Conference-leading scorer Rickea Jackson was back on the hardwood for the first time in 10 days, MSU’s top rebounder, freshman forward Denae Carter, was unavailable due to a family emergency. The Bulldogs fell to 11-5 (2-2 SEC, while the Rebels are now 15-2 (3-1 SEC).
The Rebels employed a full-court press from the start of the game, and the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball across half court. Ole Miss quickly built a 12-0 first-quarter lead, forcing MSU into turnovers and claiming an early rebounding advantage. Jackson finally ended the initial Bulldogs drought with a 3-pointer at the 5:17 mark in the first frame.
Ole Miss led 23-13 after the first quarter and continued to apply pressure through the remainder of the half. The Rebels put together another 10-0 burst midway through the second quarter and won that frame 25-13 to hold a 48-26 halftime advantage.
The Rebel home crowd enjoyed seeing more of the same in the third quarter as Ole Miss once again outscored MSU by a 24-14 margin, building a game-high lead of 72-40, a 32-point spread. MSU was able to flip the script in the fourth quarter, outscoring Ole Miss by 31-14 and cutting into the deficit for a final margin of 86-71. Most of the late success was against Ole Miss reserves.
Ole Miss was able to substitute at will to keep players fresh. No Rebel played more than 25 minutes for the game. Meanwhile, four of the five Bulldog starters played 37 minutes or more.
The Bulldogs could not find an offensive rhythm against the pressure defense from the Rebels, and the Rebels dominated the offensive glass by an 18-5 margin. Redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes paced the Bulldog scoring for the third straight game with 24 points, while Jackson netted 22 points. Sophomore guard JerKaila Jordan scored 15 points, while graduate guard Caterrion Thompson netted 10 points and grabbed three steals.
Five Rebels scored in double figures, and two had double-doubles. Senior center and Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List nominee Shakira Austin scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while redshirt junior guard Donetta Johnson scored 12 points and made 10 rebounds.
Next up: MSU hosts the No. 17 Georgia Bulldogs on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT for a game that will be broadcast on SEC Network+. Georgia holds a 14-3 (3-2 SEC) record and are coming off a 72-62 win at Missouri.
Georgia holds wins over No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 4 North Carolina State. Senior center Jenna Staiti is on the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List and leads Georgia with 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Georgia leads the all-time series against MSU 28-21, but MSU is riding a six-game winning streak through the most recent meeting in December 2020.