BY: ELIZABETH KEEN, STUDENT ASSISTANT
Mississippi State rose to the occasion on Monday night.
Mississippi State made key plays on both ends of the floor throughout to secure a 77-73 victory over defending national champion No. 9 LSU inside Humphrey Coliseum.
A sold-out crowd of 9,121 in white filled Humphrey Coliseum to witness history, marking the first home sellout and the first top-10 win under head coach Sam Purcell.
“I am walking up to Humphrey Coliseum and there was a line sitting ready hours before the game. I was just speechless,” Purcell said, describing his arrival to the arena this afternoon. “This is what I dreamed about.”
The Bulldogs then went out and rewarded its loyal fans.
Senior guard and New Orleans, La. native Jerkaila Jordan finished with her fourth 20-plus point game in conference action, turning in game-high 24 points on 9-17 from the field and 3-3 from behind the arc in 32 minutes. Senior guard Darrione Rogers and freshman guard Mjracle Sheppard provided key minutes off the bench with Rogers totaling 19 total points – nine of which came in the fourth quarter – and Sheppard filling the stat sheet with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds and six steals.
Mississippi State started off strong with a 14-2 run at the halfway point of the first quarter to build an 18-10 lead at the 3:06 mark. The Bulldogs converted on 47 percent from the field to push its lead to as many as eight points in the initial frame. Jordan spearheaded the effort with nine points and three rebounds through the first 10 minutes.
Sheppard made the second quarter her own. The freshman added six points and kept offensive possessions alive with a pair of offensive rebounds, igniting the home crowd with her effort.
The game remained back-and-forth as Mississippi State headed to the half trailing 40-35.
Mississippi State then came out of the locker room and responded with a third quarter in which it shot an impressive 85 percent from the floor and 67 percent from three-point range to take control of the contest. Jordan scored the team’s first five points of the second half and totaled 12 points over the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Seven different players score and Mississippi State netted six of their last seven field goals to close out the third quarter. The Bulldogs outscored the Tigers by 11 points and took a six-point lead into the final stanza of action.
That is when Humphrey Coliseum started to buzz with the home crowd sensing a win was in our grasp. Then, State sealed the deal.
Mississippi State held strong on defense as the fourth quarter got underway, and Rogers stepped up big in the final minutes of the game to hit crucial shots when necessary. She scored nine of her team’s 14 points in the last quarter, starting with a big shot from beyond the arc as the Tigers attempted to mount a late comeback. Rogers added three free throws over two trips to the line in the final minute of action to secure the victory.
“I have so many people who believe in me, but I believe in these young women, and more importantly they believe in each other” Purcell added.
The victory gives Mississippi State consecutive victories in conference play for the second time this season. Mississippi State improves 17-5 overall and 4-3 in the SEC with a ton of momentum headed into their next contest.
Mississippi State will travel to Lexington to face Kentucky with tip-off set for 6:00 p.m. CT on Thursday, Feb. 1. The game will be streamed by SEC Network+.