State Falls At Ole Miss In Women's Hoops

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Kendra Grant's 16 led State in scoring.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

OXFORD, Miss. - Mississippi State had a fast start Thursday night, but Ole Miss had a strong finish to claim a 65-51 win at Tad Smith Coliseum Thursday night.

The Bulldogs built an early 12-point lead, but was unable to hold on as State saw a two-game win streak and a six-game series win streak snapped.

The Bulldogs fall to 11-13 overall and 3-8 in league play, while the Rebels improved to 9-15 and 2-9. For Ole Miss, it was their first home win in conference play this season.

In this season's first meeting, MSU pulled away to a 72-57 victory thanks to a strong second half surge. On this night, Ole Miss fought back from an eight-point halftime deficit with a 20-5 run to begin the game's final half.

"I'm disappointed because we didn't come out ready to play and that is my fault," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "Ole Miss really took it to us, especially in the second half. They made all the hustle plays. They really outworked us and deserved to win."

The Bulldogs started strong, sprinting out to an early 10-2 advantage. MSU went better than eight minutes before committing its first turnover. A 3-pointer by Darriel Gaynor and follow-up basket by Jerica James ran the MSU lead to 20-8 with 11:05 left in the first half.

Thanks to 48.3 percent shooting from the field in the first half, the Maroon and White maintained a healthy advantage. Martha Alwal and Kendra Grant each had 11 points in the game's first half as MSU led 35-27 at halftime.

"I thought we relaxed and let our foot off the gas when it should have stayed on it the whole time," said Grant, a sophomore guard. "They really challenged us in the second half and we didn't respond. We got too comfortable."

A layup by Grant pushed the MSU advantage to 37-27. Still down 10 at 39-29, Ole Miss responded with game's next 11 points. The Rebels grabbed their first lead at 40-39 on two free throws by Kenyotta Jenkins.

The Rebels pushed the advantage to 47-40 on a Courtney Marbra jumper with 11:56 remaining. The Bulldogs had an eight-minute stretch in the second half without a field goal.

A jumper by Katia May brought MSU back within five at 47-42. However, hot shooting by Ole Miss saved the day for the Rebels. A 12-0 run quickly pushed Ole Miss to the win. 

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 58 shots from the field (36.2 percent), 2 of 14 shots from 3-point range (14.3 percent) and 7 of 13 shots from the foul line (53.8 percent). The Rebels hit 23 of 61 shots from the field (37.7 percent), 3 of 13 shots from 3-point range (23.1 percent) and 16 of 19 shots from the foul line (84.2 percent).

Ole Miss held a 43-40 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 13 assists and 19 turnovers, while the Rebels had 17 assists and 13 turnovers.

Grant paced MSU with 16 points, while Alwal posted her 13th double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Alwal became the first Bulldog since former All-American Tan White to record three-straight double-doubles.

Ole Miss received 19 points from Valencia McFarland, 11 points from Tia Faleru and 10 points from Jenkins. 

MSU hosts LSU at 12:30 p.m. Sunday. This season's "Think Pink" game will be televised regionally by SportSouth. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the contest, and the first 750 fans in attendance will receive a "Think Pink" T-shirt courtesy of Oktibbeha County Hospital.


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