TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Mississippi State suffered another heart-breaking defeat on the road in Southeastern Conference women’s basketball action Thursday night.
After Katia May scored at the end of regulation to tie the contest, Mississippi State came up short in overtime as it fell to Alabama 72-64 at Foster Auditorium.
Alabama improved to 12-14 overall and 5-8 in conference play, while MSU fell to 17-10 and 4-9. The Bulldogs enter the final three games of the regular season tied for 12th in the conference standings. The top 10 will receive opening-round byes in the conference tournament.
“Hats off to Alabama,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “They made some big shots when they had to and certainly made some big stops when they had to. Execution, our inability to stop dribble penetration and their ability to get to the rim were the big keys in the game.”
Earlier in the season, MSU saw an 11-point second half lead slip away in an overtime loss at Ole Miss. Thursday night, MSU held three different six-point leads in the second half. Alabama held three leads in the final 20 minutes, including a 58-55 edge after an old-fashioned 3-point play by Daisha Simmons.
On the offensive end, MSU’s Kendra Grant was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt and made two free throws. After Alabama made 1-of-2 on its end, Mississippi State was able to come back and get the game-tying score from May with seven seconds left.
Off the opening tip in overtime, Alabama’s Shafontaye Myers hit a 3-point basket. The Crimson Tide then forced a pair of turnovers and was able to build a lead they would not relinquish.
The Bulldogs applied defensive pressure from the opening tip to build an early advantage. Dominique Dillingham hit three free throws as MSU went up 11-5 with 12:14 left in the first half.
Mississippi State still held a 23-16 lead after a layup by May with 3:19 left in the half. Alabama answered with a 7-2 run to cut Mississippi State’s lead to 25-23 at halftime.
Alabama went up 28-25 to start the second half before State answered with an 11-2 run, capped by a Savannah Carter 3-point basket, that made it 36-30 MSU with 14:06 left in the contest.
The Bulldogs held similar leads at 42-36 and 44-38 before a strong finish by the Crimson Tide forced the game into overtime.
“We’re playing like a young, inexperienced and immature team, and that is who we are,” Schaefer said. “We are playing a lot of freshmen a lot of minutes. Our freshmen will get it. It is just painful some of the things that this basketball team is going through right now.
“We just didn’t play smart tonight. We take a lot of pride in how smart we usually play.”
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 20 of 61 shots from the field (32.8 percent), 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range (44.4 percent) and 20 of 23 shots from the foul line (87.0 percent). The Crimson Tide hit 21 of 56 shots from the field (37.5 percent), 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 23 of 37 shots from the foul line (62.2 percent).
MSU held a 43-40 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 23 turnovers, while the Crimson Tide had 14 assists and 17 turnovers.
Martha Alwal posted her eight double-double of the season and 27th of her career with 18 points and 15 rebounds in 45 minutes of play for MSU. Grant added 14 points.
Alabama received 19 points from Myers, 18 points from Sharin Rivers, 18 points from Ashley Williams and 11 points from Simmons.MSU returns home to host Ole Miss at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Humphrey Coliseum.