The remnants of a night-session crowd of 3,069 in the Bi-Lo Center oohed and aahed as Tan White scored 38 points for Mississippi State (17-11), but then the small gathering got behind Arkansas in its implausible comeback.
Arkansas (16-12, 4-11 against SEC teams) will play at around 8:30 p.m. today against third-seeded Vanderbilt (21-6), a team it lost to by 78-43 in Nashville, Tenn., on Feb. 17.
"Vanderbilt was probably rooting for us tonight," joked UA coach Susie Gardner.
Sarah Pfeifer, who led Arkansas with 23 points, said, "Our guards did a good job of getting the ball to me, and I was able to kick it to Danielle (Allen) for a couple of layups."
Allen (14 points) said, "We all just started playing well together. We knew when we got within 10 points that we were going to win. Coach Gardner is a great coach, and she motivated us at halftime."
Kristin Peoples scored 18 points, including 7 of 8 free throws, for the Lady'Backs.
"Arkansas never got down," said MSU coach Sharon Fanning. "I give them a lot of credit."
White, the nation's leading scorer with a 23.0 average coming into the tournament, raced to 20 points in the first half as the Lady Bulldogs took a 46-35 lead.
"It was more heartache for us in the first half," Gardner said. "I was thinking, 'Can't something good happen for this team?' But then we started playing better and made some huge shots. I'm so proud of these players."
Arkansas jumped to a 19-16 lead with 11 minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half. At that point, White had just three points and Arkansas' Adrienne Bush, the player guarding her, had two points on a layup after picking White's pocket at midcourt.
But after a media timeout, Allen turned the ball over twice for Arkansas and White fueled an 11-0 MSU run with back-to-back layups. Along the way, Pfeifer picked up her second foul for Arkansas.
Pfeifer had to sit out for four-and-a-half minutes, during which time the Lady Bulldogs pushed their advantage to 35-23.
White made two more layups as MSU went up 42-25, before Arkansas rallied behind eight Pfeifer points to pull within 46-35 by intermission.
The Lady'Backs, who shot 50 percent in the first half on 15 of 30, continued their run with an 8-0 beginning to the second half to inch within 46-43, as guards Peoples and Bush began driving aggressively to the basket.
Mississippi State, 17 of 32 in the first half for 53.1 percent, pushed its lead back to 56-48, only to watch Peoples and Bush each score on a driving layup to make it 56-52. April Seggebruch, Arkansas' designated in-bounds passer, then hit a 3-pointer to slice MSU's lead to 56-55.
Pfeifer put Arkansas ahead 57-56, inspiring Allen to score three times in the next two minutes and keep the Lady'Backs ahead 63-62. Peoples' running 18-footer made it 65-62, Arkansas, at the 7:28 media timeout.
Two Pfeifer free throws increased the lead to 67-62, before Peoples committed her fourth foul and sat down with 5:50 left.
White whittled the score to 67-64, but Rochelle Vaughn supplied a 3-point dagger (on a play intended for Pfeifer) for a 70-64 Lady'Backs advantage.
Peoples, back in the game, then made a gorgeous lob pass to Pfeifer inside, leading to a layup and 72-64 UA lead. Peoples kept MSU at bay from there with her ball-handling and free throw shooting.
"I'm just so happy that our players have a good feeling like this," Gardner said.
Arkansas shot 50.8 percent and matched Mississippi State with 32 rebounds.
White was 13 of 28 from the field, 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Tiania Burns had 12 points for the Lady Bulldogs.
Lady Razorbacks Rally, Stun MSU 80-73
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