State Women Rally to Defeat Ole Miss in OT

STARKVILLE, Miss. - On "Think Pink" afternoon in the Humphrey Coliseum, the Mississippi State women's basketball team thought defense.

Rallying from down 10 points late, the Lady Bulldogs snapped a five-game losing streak with a 53-50 overtime win over Ole Miss in a Southeastern Conference contest played before a season-best crowd of 1,638.

"Sometimes, it is all about finding a way to win," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "This was a game where both teams played hard and played aggressive. Sometimes, when you aren't playing your best, it is all about hanging in there and finding a way. That is what we did."

With the victory, MSU improved to 14-11 overall and 4-8 in league play. Ole Miss fell to 12-14 and 2-11. The Lady Bulldogs have won five straight in the series and seven of the last eight. MSU has swept the season series in three of the past four seasons.

For the Maroon and White, the victory completed a strong weekend of competition against the arch-rival. Winning its first overtime game of the season Sunday, the Lady Bulldogs' triumph came on the heels of victories over Ole Miss in men's basketball and men's tennis Thursday night.

Neither team displayed an offensive shooting clinic Sunday afternoon. Both teams shot below 30 percent from the floor and hit a combined 5-of-26 shots from 3-point range. A total of 17 free throws were missed, while the teams combined for a remarkable 110 rebounds.

"You have to believe you can win then you have to expect to win," Fanning-Otis said. "After that, you have to put yourself in a position to win. Even though we were out-rebounded, we did manage our fair share of key rebounds in the second half. We also forced turnovers.

"Essentially, we hung in there until some good things could happen for us."

The Lady Bulldogs hit one 3-point basket in the contest. Diamber Johnson rammed that trey home with five seconds left in regulation. Teammate Porsha Porter stole the inbounds but could not get an off-balanced 10-footer to fall as the horn for regulation time expired.

In the overtime, the Lady Bulldogs took the lead for good at 47-45 on a layup by Martha Alwal with 2:38 left. After a steal by Jerica James, Porter hit a jumper in the lane, giving the Maroon and White a four-point advantage – their largest in the contest.

The lead changed hands five times during a competitive first half. The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed leads of 2-0, 15-13, 17-15 and 23-22.

A late jumper by Danielle McCray placed the Lady Rebels on top 24-23 at the intermission.

Ole Miss scored the first six points of the game's final half to stretch the lead to 30-23. Valencia McFarland completed an old-fashioned 3-point play to create that advantage. The Lady Bulldogs went close to four minutes before Porter finally scored her team's first basket of the second half.

A 3-pointer by Amber Singletary allowed Ole Miss to stretch the lead to 35-25 with 13:36 remaining. The lead was still 10 at 37-27 with 12:45 left.

The Lady Bulldogs then found a different intensity on defense. Ole Miss was charged with 10 second-half turnovers, including two in overtime.

A jumper by James and layup by Porter started a 9-0 run by the hosts. Two free throws by Porter brought the Lady Bulldogs within one at 37-36 with 5:50 left.

Ole Miss went close to eight minutes before McCray broke the draught with a layup. Two free throws by Monique Jackson ran the UM lead to 41-36.

The Lady Bulldogs answered with back-to-baskets by Porter. After two free throws by UM's Valencia McFarland with 16 seconds left, Johnson had the game-tying answer on the other end.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 22 of 74 shots from the field (29.7 percent), 1 of 11 shots from 3-point range (9.1 percent) and 8 of 15 shots from the foul line (53.3 percent). The Lady Rebels hit 17 of 67 shots from the field (25.4 percent), 4 of 15 shots from 3-point range (26.7 percent) and 12 of 22 shots from the foul line (54.5 percent).

Ole Miss held a 62-48 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had six assists and nine turnovers, while the Lady Rebels had nine assists and 18 turnovers.

Porter paced the Lady Bulldogs with 18 points, while Alwal had a team-high 10 rebounds.

Ole Miss received 16 points from McFarland. McCray and Tia Faleru each had a team-high 12 rebounds.

MSU hosts No. 11 Tennessee at 8 p.m. Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs and Lady Volunteers will be shown regionally by Comcast Sports Southeast.

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