STARKVILLE – Senior guard Jerkaila Jordan posted 24 points on 9-15 from the field, in addition to five rebounds and five steals in 24 minutes to lead Mississippi State to an 87-26 win over New Orleans on Wednesday inside Humphrey Coliseum.
“This one is simple, it’s bigger than basketball,” said head coach Sam Purcell. “First and foremost, our hashtag this year is ONE. How many things can we do one at a time that are bigger than basketball. I know the talent that I have in the locker room. I know the special individuals whose moments will come, but I also try to challenge our young women when they play for this program to be more than just basketball players.”
The 61-point win marks the largest margin of victory under Purcell and the 26 points allowed is the fewest since the Bulldogs surrendered 25 points to Savannah State on Nov. 29, 2015.
Over 3,000 students from 30 local schools were on hand for Education Day to cheer on the win.
“Thank you to our fans, administration, facility workers, volunteers and students who gave up their parking today, so that we were able to have this game at 11,” added Purcell. “If you can’t have joy after today then we have problems. Imagine how many kids that showed up today have a parent who can’t get off work or who don’t have the resources to come to a game. We might have had an opportunity today where we had a young female watching our team and she got inspired to play the game of basketball. That is what a kid’s game does for this community, it allows us to give back to the next generation. I know that I was enjoying it, like you all.”
With the win, Mississippi State improved to 4-0 on the season and 18-2 at home under Purcell. The Bulldogs are also now 12-0 in non-conference home contests in his tenure. For the second-straight contest, all 10 players logged double-digit minutes and scored. The Bulldogs’ bench contributed 25 points for the third-straight game and were led by seven points and four assists from senior guard Darrione Rogers.
Mississippi State connected on 57.1 percent from the field – its eighth time under Purcell shooting 50 percent or better. The scoring outburst for 87 points improved the Bulldogs to 11-0 under Purcell when scoring 80-plus points.
Graduate student center Jessika Carter added her 30th career double-double – second among active SEC players – with 13 points and 13 rebounds in 23 minutes. Graduate student Lauren Park-Lane displayed her command of the offense once more with a game-high four assists, in addition to 11 points on 5-7 from the field and two rebounds in 24 minutes.
“I have to credit to my teammates and this staff, this is a new environment and role for me,” said Park-Lane. “We all had a conversation this week and my teammates told me they hope to see LP here. I came out here and tried to channel that energy because I know they wanted it and that my teammates love me, and the love is reciprocated.”
“Tonight was awesome to see because our team noticed that in the first three games Lauren [Park-Lane] was very unselfish. She didn’t necessarily have enough touches early and our players recognized that and were committed to getting her the ball. I was in awe of it. They did not tell me they were going to do that, but you can read the room. For them to do that, I could not be prouder to be their coach.”
Sophomore guard Debreasha Powe contributed 13 points on 5-9 from the field and 3-6 from behind the arc to round out four Bulldogs who scored in double figures.
Mississippi State closed out a 21-4 first quarter on a second-chance layup by freshman center Quanirah Montague. Jordan turned in 19 points before the break and the Bulldogs’ stifling defense forced 13 turnovers to help Mississippi State secure a 43-10 lead heading into the locker room.
Following a similar trend in its first three contests, Mississippi State was dominant out of the break with a 25-5 third period. The Bulldogs have now outscored their opponents 98-37 in the third quarter this season.
The Bulldogs defense continued to make their presense known throughout the remainder of the contest with 19 forced turnovers on the afternoon, their fourth-straight game with 15 or more turnovers forced. Mississippi State also held a 30-2 points off turnovers advantage.
Mississippi State continues to pace the SEC in scoring defense (39.8), field-goal percentage defense (26.9) and three-point field goal percentage defense (19.5).
Closing the contest on a 13-0 run over the final 5:16 minutes, Mississippi State built its largest lead of the game on an and-one finish from Montague. Montague finished with seven points, nine rebounds and a game-high four blocks in 16 minutes off the bench.
Mississippi State hits the road for the first time this season when the Bulldogs travel to take on Belmont on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT.