OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss got a tip-in from Kenyotta Jenkins with 0.8 seconds remaining in overtime to knock off Mississippi State 87-85 in a Southeastern Conference women’s basketball game played Thursday night at Tad Smith Coliseum.
MSU fell to 14-6 and 1-5 in SEC play, while Ole Miss improved to 10-10 overall and 1-5 in league play.
“This one is on me,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “When you are up four or down four with four (minutes) to go, it is your job as a coach to bring your team home. I didn’t do that tonight. We played well. We competed. I really liked how we competed.
“The freshmen really stepped up tonight. They grew up a lot.”
MSU led by as many as seven in the first half and as many as 11 in the second half. However, the Bulldogs never could find enough separation to close out a win. With a tied score both times, MSU missed a jump shot by Martha Alwal with 11 seconds left in regulation and turned the ball over with eight seconds left in overtime.
In the opening half, both teams excelled on the offensive end. MSU built a five-point lead at 9-4 and led again at 17-12 on a layup by Dominique Dillingham. The lead grew to seven at 21-14 on a 3-point basket by Kendra Grant.
Grant led the Bulldogs with 20 points in 27 minutes of playing time off the bench. Freshman Breanna Richardson scored a career-high with 18 points, including 16 in the first half. Martha Alwal added 17 points, while freshman Ketara Chapel scored 12 points, including six in the overtime.
“I really like playing with the freshmen because they play so hard,” Grant said. “You can tell they are learning things and really growing up. It is sad that we didn’t come out on top because we played really hard.”
Ole Miss closed within 41-39 at halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs found some answers on the defensive end and built a sizable lead. A 3-pointer by Chapel and layup by Katia May capped a 12-1 run as MSU took a 55-44 advantage with 12:13 left in the contest.
However, foul trouble plagued the Bulldogs down the stretch, as both Richardson and Grant fouled out.
Ole Miss closed within 64-61 on a 7-0 run. Still, the Rebels did not pull even until a basket by Valencia McFarland knotted the score at 73 with 3:16 left in regulation time. In the overtime, the Bulldogs held three different 2-point leads.
The last lead was after a layup by Chapel with 28 seconds left. Ole Miss answered with a layup by Tia Faleru and followed with the game-winning basket after mid-court pressure forced a turnover.
“We probably rushed the last possession,” Schaefer said. “We were trying to get the ball into Ketara because she had been so good in overtime. Offensively, we did many things well tonight. We did a lot of things right. The stats were good. We just didn’t contain and get the stops.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 30 of 63 shots from the field for 47.6 percent, their best field-goal percentage in SEC play this season. State also hit 4 of 8 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 21 of 29 shots from the foul line (72.4 percent). The Rebels hit 30 of 67 shots from the field (44.8 percent), 6 of 20 shots from 3-point range (30.0 percent) and 21 of 36 shots from the foul line (58.3 percent).
Ole Miss held a 44-38 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Rebels had 15 assists and 17 turnovers.
Alwal posted her sixth double-double of the season and 25th of her career, the most by an active SEC player, by adding a team-high 12 rebounds to her 17 points.
Ole Miss received double-doubles from Faleru (29 points, 15 rebounds) and McFarland (27 points, 12 assists), while Shequila Joseph had 15 points, all coming beyond the 3-point line.
MSU returns home to host Missouri in the team’s “We Back Pat” game. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. in the Humphrey Coliseum with the contest being televised regionally by SportSouth.