But the Herd would get no closer, as the Bulldogs registered two late buckets to finish off the eight points win. Alyssa Hammond led Marshall with 20 points, her first 20-point performance since scoring 23 against Niagara two years ago. Casey Baker scored a season-high of 18 points.
In a low scoring first half, the Thundering Herd found itself ahead the whole first 20 minutes. Mississippi State inched its way back into the game, cutting the Herd lead to as little as a point, 10-9, with 14 minutes left in the half. Up 19-17 halfway through the opening period, Marshall went on an 8-0 run to grab its first double-digit lead. Four players scored in the run, which was capped off by Angelica Harris' second three of the contest with six minutes left.
After a timeout, Mississippi State kept the Herd scoreless for four minutes while putting up eight straight points of their own to cut the lead to two. At the half, it was a 32-29 game in favor of the Herd. But after closing the first half on a 12-5 run, Mississippi State came out firing in the second half, opening up on a 16-1 run to open up a 12-point lead. The Bulldogs took advantage of early foul trouble for the Herd, who committed seven fouls in the first four minutes of the second half.
Alexis Rack hit her third three-pointer of the game to give Mississippi State its first lead of the game with 18:54 remaining. That shot sent the Bulldogs on a 14-0 stretch that saw them grab a 45-33 advantage. The lead hovered between 12 and 15 points until Rack's fifth three of the game put MSU up by 18, the largest lead either team would have in the contest.
Just when it looked like the Herd was down and out, back-to-back threes by Baker cut the lead to 12. After stopping Mississippi State, Marshall got an old fashion three-point play from Hammond cut the MSU lead to nine, 67-58. After two Rack free throws pushed the Bulldog lead back to 11, Hammond hit two free throws and after another defensive stop, Chantelle Handy hit a deep three, her first since her freshman season against Tulane, to bring the Herd within six, 69-63, with just over a minute left.
It was too little, too late, though, as the Bulldogs were able to overcome Marshall's press and hang on for the win. The Herd finished with a 33-31 advantage on the boards while the Bulldogs just out-shot Marshall, 47 percent (26-of-55) to 45 percent (23-of-51). Neither team was able to take care of the ball as both squads committed 20 turnovers. MU hit 6-of-12 from three, while MSU hit 7-of-16 (44 percent).
MSU's Rack led all players with 23 points, shooting a solid 5-of-9 from three-point range and was one of four players in double digits for the Bulldogs. Armelie Lumanu notched 15 points, Tysheka Grimes had 12 points and Mary Kathryn Govero scored 11 points. For the Herd, Baker hit 7-of-11 for the Herd, including 3-of-3 from three, and had three assists, six turnovers and six steals. Hammond was 5-of-9 from the floor and hit 10-of-12 at the line, while Handy had seven points and led MU with seven rebounds. Marshall will be back in action on Tuesday, facing either UNC Asheville or the host Terrapins of Maryland at 12 p.m. in the consolation final, while MSU will meet the winner of today's second contest for the title on Tuesday afternoon.