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Shorthanded Mississippi State women’s basketball wins on the road at Alabama 65-62

Bulldogs improve to 10-4.

Junior guard Aislynn Hayes vs Alabama on Jan. 6, 2021
Jeff Hanson/UA Athletics

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team only had eight available players and was down two assistant coaches for Thursday’s matchup against the Alabama Crimson Tide, but a gutsy performance from redshirt senior guard Myah Taylor led the Bulldogs to a 65-62 victory inside Coleman Coliseum.

MSU announced earlier in the day that the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, junior forward Rickea Jackson, and two assistant coaches would not be available for the game. The Bulldogs (10-4) evened their SEC record at 1-1, while the Crimson Tide (10-4) fell to 1-2 in SEC play.

Alabama took an early four-point lead in the first quarter thanks to three made 3-pointers in the first two minutes of play. MSU regained momentum with four steals to earn a 20-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Back-and-forth play in the second quarter saw the Bulldogs earn a 37-32 halftime advantage, holding a single-digit lead over the Tide for the entire quarter.

The Tide rose to take a one-point lead halfway through the third quarter, but the Bulldogs answered with an 8-0 run to reclaim the advantage. However, the MSU shooters then went cold, and Alabama crawled back within three points by the end of the quarter. The Bulldogs led 52-49 at that point, but of greater concern was redshirt senior guard floor leader Myah Taylor going out of the game late in the quarter with an injury.

The fourth quarter saw the Tide take a one-point lead that was immediately reclaimed by the Bulldogs. With the game still in doubt, Taylor was able to return three minutes into the fourth quarter and made key plays down the stretch for the Bulldogs. She filled up the stat line with three steals, one assist, one block and three points in the quarter. Taylor’s block of a game-tying 3-point attempt by Alabama sealed the 65-62 win for MSU.

Redshirt senior guard Anastasia Hayes paced the Bulldogs with 22 points, while sophomore guard JerKaila Jordan put in 16 points and Taylor scored 14 as well. Taylor managed seven steals and two blocks to go with her six assists, all while committing just one turnover. Freshman center Denae Carter grabbed 10 rebounds to lead MSU in that category.

MSU outscored Alabama in the paint 40-22 and earned a 16-4 advantage in fast-break points. The Bulldogs also held a 12-2 advantage in steals and gave up just 12 turnovers to 20 by Alabama. The Bulldogs shot 44.3% from the field and 16.7% from 3-point range. The Tide shot 41.8% from the field and 37% from 3-point range.

Alabama had three players in double figures, led by senior guard Hannah Barber with a game-high 19 points, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range

Next up: MSU hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT on SEC Network+. The Commodores hold a 10-5 record (1-0 SEC) and defeated Arkansas 54-51 on Thursday. Senior forward Brinae Alexander leads Vandy with 14.3 points per game. Vandy leads the all-time series against the Bulldogs 36-22, but the Bulldogs have won the past seven games.