STARKVILLE — While Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer’s suit jacket lasted just a quarter and a half before he tossed it aside in frustration, his Bulldog squad turned in a 40-minute 124-43 demolition of Murray State Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU’s 124 points surpassed a 33-year old school record of 117 points scored against Judson College Feb. 24, 1986.
“We played really well y’all — not going to apologize for that,” Schaefer said postgame.
Having been plagued by slow starts in season opening wins over Southern Mississippi and University of Tennessee-Martin, MSU was out and running from the start — leaping to a 34-7 lead after the first quarter.
Riding the play of sophomore center Jessika Carter and sophomore Promise Taylor, the Bulldogs did most of their damage in the post — outscoring the Racers 76-18 in the paint.
Carter — who Schaefer has long billed as an x-factor for this season’s squad — earned a double-double in the first quarter alone and notched career highs in points (25) and rebounds (18) on the night.
As for Taylor, Friday marked her first double-digit scoring output since Feb. 22, 2018 against Auburn during her freshman season at Ole Miss.
Having sat out last season due to transfer rules coupled with a severe ankle injury limiting her practice time, her 23 minutes were also a career-high for her time in Starkville.
“It just feels good to get out there and compete with my teammates,” Taylor said through a smile. “I’ve been out for so long so getting back just felt great.”
While Carter and Taylor anchored the MSU frontcourt, freshman forward Rickea Jackson also turned in her most prolific offensive display to-date with a career-high 16 points on 5 of 8 shooting.
“It felt pretty (good) to finally see my shot falling,” Jackson said. “In previous games it just wasn’t going in — I just basically needed to get into it more and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Sophomore guard Myah Taylor, junior guard Andra Espinoza-Hunter and junior forward Yemiyah Morris also all scored in double-digits, while all 12 rostered players scored at least two points.
“You better guard everybody because every one of them can score,” Schaefer said. “They’re all confident, they all have a skillset.”
As the offense clicked, the Bulldog defense flashed its potential Friday — forcing the Racers into more than double the amount of turnovers (34), than they scored field goals (16).
Schaefer was also quick to highlight his team’s ability to chase Murray State off the 3-point line. Entering Friday’s contest, the Racers had attempted 71 shots from behind the arc, but managed only 11 against the Bulldogs.
“That was the one thing we talked about — one through five — we had to get out and take away that 3-point line and I think we did that,” he said.
Senior Jordan Danberry also added a career-high six steals, while Myah Taylor and freshman guard Jayla Hemingway each notched three apiece.
MSU is back in action at 7 p.m. Monday against Troy at Humphrey Coliseum.
Freshman guard Aliyah Matharu was held out for the game’s first half for an internal issue. Schaefer wouldn’t get into specifics on why she was withheld.
“We dealt with it and she got to play the second half,” Schaefer said. “Young people, that’s just the way it is sometimes.”
MSU’s 81-point margin of victory marked the second-largest point differential against an opponent in school history — one point shy of the program record of 82.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.