Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

No. 3 Bulldogs move atop SEC with 72-67 win at No. 23 Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The No. 3 Mississippi State women's basketball team worked the road magic again Sunday afternoon. Down by seven late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs surged ahead in the fourth quarter to take a 72-67 win over Texas A&M in Southeastern Conference action at Reed Arena.

MSU needs one win in its final two games to clinch at least a share of the program's first SEC regular-season title in program history. The Bulldogs are now guaranteed one of the top two spots in the SEC Tournament, which begins March 1 in Greenville, S.C.

MSU completed its first-ever season sweep of Texas A&M and also won the first time at College Station. The Bulldogs improved to 27-1 overall and 13-1 in league play, while the Aggies fell to 19-8 and 9-5.

The Bulldogs bettered that school record for conference wins in a season (13) and road wins in a season (12). The 27 overall wins is one shy of a school record. MSU moved into sole possession of the league standings, thanks to this victory and South Carolina's road loss at Missouri.

"It was a heck of a basketball game," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "You hate that someone had to come out on the losing end. I'm very proud of my kids. It was a game of runs. There were a lot of runs. We just happened to get the last run. There was no bigger shot in Ketara's career than the one she made in front of our bench.

"We have kids who embrace wanting to be in the moment. Teaira was phenomenal. She has been on a tear here of late."

Victoria Vivians led the Bulldogs with 25 points, while Teaira McCowan added 16 points. McCowan also had 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the season and second in the past three games.

The teams were tied at 30 after a nip-and-tuck first half.

Things then appeared to be falling in order when the Maroon and White scored the first nine points of the third quarter. A layup by McCowan gave the Bulldogs a 39-30 lead with 7:43 left in the third quarter.

Another basket by McCowan pushed the lead to 46-38 with 3:56 left third quarter.

From there, Texas A&M took over. The Aggies used a 17-2 run to build a 55-48 lead. Vivians scored as time expired in the third quarter to bring the Bulldogs back within 55-50.

Texas A&M still held a 62-55 lead with 7:02 left in the contest. The Bulldogs started on the comeback trail and finally took the lead at 66-65 on a 3-pointer by Ketara Chapel with 2:18 left.

Texas A&M had one more lead before a jumper in the lane by McCowan gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 68-67 with 1:17 left. After a defensive stop, another move to the basket in the lane from McCowan built the lead to three points. Two free throws by Vivians sealed the win.

For the contest, MSU hit 28 of 60 shots from the field (46.7 percent), 4 of 15 shots from 3-point range (26.7 percent) and 12 of 14 shots from the foul line (85.7 percent). Texas A&M hit 24 of 59 shots from the field (40.7 percent), 7 of 7 shots from 3-point range (100 percent) and 12 of 14 shots from the foul line (85.7 percent).

MSU held a 38-31 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 17 assists and 11 turnovers, while the Aggies had 11 assists and eight turnovers.

Texas A&M placed four players in double figures. Danni Williams had 23 points, followed by Curtyce Knox with 19 points, Khaalia Hillsman with 13 points and Taylor Cooper with 10 points.

MSU remains on the road for a Thursday contest with Kentucky. The Bulldogs and Wildcats will tip at 6 p.m. CT on either ESPN2 or ESPNU. The regular-season finale and Senior Day is set for Sunday when Tennessee comes to the Humphrey Coliseum. That 4 p.m. contest will be televised by ESPN2.

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