STARKVILLE — The Mississippi State women’s basketball team saw three players put up double-doubles for the first time since 2009 as the Bulldogs recovered focus and won the battle of the boards Sunday to post a come-from-behind 74-66 victory over Jackson State at Humphrey Coliseum.
Rickea Jackson led the Bulldogs with 24 points, becoming the 24th MSU player to score 1,000 points in her career along the way. The junior forward also had a career-high 12 rebounds.
Freshman Denae Carter made her first start for the Bulldogs and responded with a career-high 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds for her third double-double. JerKaila Jordan’s double-double included a career high in rebounds with 11 to go along with 11 points.
The last time three Bulldogs had a double-double in the same way was Nov. 13, 2009 in a win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and it was a good way to bounce back after their loss to Troy on Saturday.
“It felt great,” Bulldogs coach Doug Novak said. “Troy is a good team, and how we were playing Troy deserved to win. Tonight we played a lot smarter. We played harder for longer stretches and attacked that basket not just with drives but with rebounding.”
It would be easy to compare Sunday’s win with Saturday’s loss and identify all the areas of improvement, but the biggest area was focus. Jackson and Jordan spoke after the game about a team meeting after the loss to Troy, a meeting Novak said was about mentality and team spirit more than basketball.
They were tested and fell short against Troy but pulled together and came out on top in a tight battle against Jackson State.
The Bulldogs trailed for much of the first and half and the third quarter, but they spent the fourth quarter taking control and snuffing out any hope of a Jackson State comeback. Carter’s hard work in the paint, relentless defense on the perimeter and clutch scoring all around in the final minutes gave the Bulldogs (8-3) the push they needed to win, despite trailing for much of the first half and third quarter.
Jackson’s milestone was celebrated after the final whistle, and Novak was quick to praise her after the game.
“Her competitive spirit is amazing, and it’s growing,” Novak said of Jackson. “When you start to put people like that on your team, it becomes contagious.”
The Bulldogs dominated the boards, outrebounding the visitors 51-33, getting more offensive rebounds (26) than Jackson State totaled in defensive rebounds (20). While each team finished with 32 points in the paint, MSU held a decisive 21-9 edge in second-chance points.
The Bulldogs have one more test in the Mississippi State Classic, facing South Carolina State at 2:30 p.m. Monday at The Hump. It will be their final nonconference game before opening their SEC campaign at home against Florida on Dec. 30.