Carter leads No. 14 Mississippi State women past Florida

Special to
Florida guard Lavender Briggs

Jessika Carter scored 25 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for her 16th career double-double and No. 14 Mississippi State turned back Florida 68-54 on Thursday night at the O'Connell Center.

The Bulldogs took the lead for good when six different players scored, three of them hitting 3-pointers, in a 15-2 run in the first quarter. But the Gators hung around by getting to the foul line while the Bulldogs only shot 44% (23 of 63) from the field, hitting 5 of 18 behind the arc.

Rickea Jackson added 14 points for Mississippi State (7-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), which has won eight straight in the series. Carter was 11-of-18 shooting while her teammates combined to go 17 of 45 (38%).

Lavender Briggs scored 23 points for the Gators (7-4, 0-3), who played their third-straight Top 15 opponent to open league play. Kiara Smith and Faith Dut added 10 points apiece.

"We're fighting. We're competing. It's just not as focused and as aggressive as we need to be at times," UF coach Cam Newbauer said. "But in terms of just the fight, the fight is there. We just need to get more breaks to go our way, but we create those breaks. We just got to be a little more locked in and focused and execute a little better on some possessions."

The Bulldogs led 19-11 after one quarter and Carter scored 11 points in the second quarter when the lead increased to 36-25.

The lead was still a dozen heading into the fourth quarter when Briggs scored the first five points. She had back-to-back buckets to pull Florida within 56-49 with 3:23 to play. But Jackson hit a 3-pointer, ending a streak of six Carter points, and Carter scored again before Sidney Cooks iced it with a 3.

Mississippi State was only 5 of 5 from the foul line, four coming in the fourth quarter, while Florida was 12 of 16. The Gators only had five assists and 16 turnovers that were turned into 16 points.

Arkansas is home against Ole Miss and the Gators play at Georgia — both on Sunday.