Credit Mississippi State Athletics
Graduate student center Jessika Carter turned in a career-high 31 points and 13 rebounds to lead Mississippi State to a 91-50 win over Kennesaw State inside Humphrey Coliseum on Monday.
Carter turned in the career-high total – her 10th career 20-point and 10-rebound performance – behind 14-19 from the field in 30 minutes. Senior guard Jerkaila Jordan posted 19 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes, while graduate student forward Erynn Barnum added with 11 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.
Mississippi State scored 90-plus points for the second time this season and the fifth overall under head coach Sam Purcell.
Graduate student guard Lauren Park-Lane and freshman guard Mjracle Sheppard dished out a game-high nine assists each and combined for 18 of the Bulldogs’ season-high 27 assists. The 27 assists mark the fourth time in the last six games that the team has recorded 20-plus assists and ties the most under Purcell.
The pair of Carter and Barnum combined for 42 points on 19-27 from the field and 19 rebounds in their return after missing multiple recent contests.
Mississippi State raced out to a 26-11 lead after the first 10 minutes behind seven early points each from Carter and Jordan. A corner three from Jordan with under two minutes left in the first made it 24-11 before the two teams traded a basket on their next possessions to close out the frame.
Sheppard swiped five of her seven steals in the second quarter alone while the Bulldogs’ suffocating defense forced nine turnovers in the period to secure a 44-23 lead at the half. Sheppard neared a triple-double with a Mississippi State individual season-high seven steals, eight points and nine assists in 26 minutes.
“She has an obvious special place in my heart because she is the first kid that I signed out of high school. I fell in love with her game for what you all saw tonight,” Purcell said about Sheppard. “She is relentless. Her motor and mindset is what sets her apart. I thought the offensive rebounds and steals that she had in the first half were a huge spark for this team.”
Mississippi State forced a season-high 23 turnovers and turned in 30 points off the turnovers on the night.
Kennesaw State went on a 7-0 run at the midway point of the third quarter that pulled the margin back to 54-39 and forced a home timeout. Mississippi State responded after the timeout with a 23-1 run that went into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by the freshman trio of Sheppard, Jasmine Brown-Hagger and Quanirah Montague combining for 14 of the 26 points in the period. A pull up jumper from Brown-Hagger and an inside finish from Montague provided Mississippi State with its largest lead of the contest at the eventual final score with 42 seconds left in regulation.
Mississippi State remains home to take on in-state opponent Jackson State on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network+.