STARKVILLE, Miss. – Freshman Dominique Dillingham scored a career-high 21 points as Mississippi State knocked off Missouri 69-62 in a Southeastern Conference women’s basketball game Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
Playing as part of the “We Back Pat” week around the league, MSU won a home conference game for the first time this season. The Bulldogs bounced back from an overtime defeat at Ole Miss Thursday night to improve to 15-6 overall and 2-5 in league play. Missouri fell to 13-7 and 2-5.
The Bulldogs have beaten the Tigers in both meetings since the two schools became rivals in the SEC.
“Formula for winning in this league is guard play,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I like how my guards played today and how they competed. They took seven offensive charges today and that is unheard of. Missouri is awfully good and hard to defend.
“We got some big stops late when we had to have them. I like how we responded after a horrific first half. Once we got comfortable against their zone and they went to man, I really like how we responded. We had chances to respond being both up and down and it was good to see our response in those situations.”
In the opening half, the Bulldogs quickly grabbed a 6-2 lead. However, the Tigers righted the ship and took a lead on the defensive end. Missouri opened a 19-14 lead midway through the opening half.
The Tigers held the lead the final 17 minutes of the opening half and stretched the advantage to 30-22.
Dillingham had 13 of her points in the first half. Her Sunday tally was the best by a Bulldog freshman since the 2006-07 season when Tysheka Grimes scored 28 against South Carolina.
“We didn’t shoot it well the first half but I was more concerned about how we played defensively,” Schaefer said. “We saw in the second half what I am working for. Five-second counts. Making other teams call timeouts. We were really making them uncomfortable. That is what we are trying to do here.”
The Bulldogs turned things up on the defensive end in the game’s final half, forcing 12 of Missouri’s 20 turnovers in the second half. After allowing 50 percent shooting in the first half, MSU held Missouri to 37.5 percent from the floor in the game’s final half.
“The defense really sparked us,” Dillingham said. “It seemed like every time we got a big stop, we followed that up with a score. Being confident was important to me today. Having confidence to take my shot and jumping after I take that shot.”
After falling down 36-31, MSU rallied to take the lead for good with a 10-0 run. An old-fashioned 3-point play by Richardson placed the Bulldogs on top 37-36. Richardson and Kendra Grant followed with back-to-back baskets to cap the run.
The lead grew to eight on an Alwal basket at 53-45 with 8:30 left.
MSU still held a seven-point lead at 63-56 with 3:41 left in the contest, but Missouri hit a couple of late 3-point baskets to get back within three at 65-62 with 1:21 left.
Alwal followed with a big blocked shot to protect that lead, and the Bulldogs hit 4-of-6 free throws over the final 40 seconds while not allowing a basket the rest of the way.
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 23 of 61 shots from the field (37.7 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 17 of 27 shots from the foul line (63.0 percent). The Tigers hit 22 of 50 shots from the field (44.0 percent), 6 of 19 shots from 3-point range (31.6 percent) and 12 of 16 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).
MSU held a 39-35 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 17 assists and 12 turnovers, while the Tigers had 15 assists and 20 turnovers.
“I really believe in this team,” MSU junior guard Savannah Carter said. “Hopefully, this win is a spark. Hopefully from here we will continue to play this hard and have success.”
For MSU, Alwal posted her seventh double-double of the season and 26th of her career with 13 points and 13 rebounds. After scoring 18 points against Ole Miss, Richardson added 15 points Sunday. Katia May had seven points, six assists and four rebounds.
Dillingham finished 6-of-16 from the field, including a 5-of-9 day from 3-point line.
Missouri received 14 points apiece from Bri Kulas and Morgan Eye.MSU returns to the road for a 7 p.m. start Thursday at LSU.