Lady Bulldogs defeated Alabama, 81-78

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State sent its three seniors out in fine fashion with a 81-78 overtime win over Alabama Sunday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum on "Senior Day."

With the win the Lady Bulldogs clinch the eighth seed in the 2004 Southeastern Conference Women's Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. They will take on ninth-seeded Arkansas (16-11, 5-9) in the first game of the day on Thursday, March 4 at Noon in the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

MSU outscored UA 10-7 in the extra period. The Maroon and White led by as many as five points on two occasions. The Crimson Tide had two shots at goal to even the game in the final seconds.

"I felt like we stayed focused for the most part, but we didn't pick up the shooters very well early on and we didn't switch like we need to," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning. "Tan had the look of a winner down the stretch, and she was able to get to the free throw line and make her free throws. She defended very well and just played well on both ends of the floor."

State fought from behind for most of the final frame. UA led by as many as 12 points at 57-45 with 13:46 remaining in the game. State answered with a 12-3 run to pull within one point at the nine-minute mark. The Lady Bulldogs took their only lead of the half at 63-62 with 6:50 remaining. The Crimson Tide's last basket in regulation came at 3:34 to play. Junior Tan White scored the last six points in regulation to even the score at 71-71.

In a first half that saw scoring runs by each team, the Crimson Tide took a four-point 44-40 advantage to the locker room. UA opened the game with a 17-8 run to lead by nine points at the 11:46 mark of the half. State responded with an 18-7 spurt to take its first lead of the game at 26-25 with 6:44 to play in the half. The Crimson Tide's Katie Sipe nailed two consecutive three-pointers to spark a Crimson and White 10-0 run to take its largest lead of the opening stanza at 36-26.

Both teams were a combined 17 of 23 from behind the three-point arc in the first 20 minutes. Senior Jessica Carter led MSU in scoring at the break with 12 points on four treys, while Monique Bivins tallied 19 points for UA.

State registered three players in double figures in the scoring department. White's 29 points led all MSU players. The Tupelo, Miss.-native now sits in second place on MSU's all-time scoring list behind LaToya Thomas, with 1,693 career points. Carter recorded a season-high 20 points, the senior finished with six treys, one shy of tying her career mark. Tiania Burns posted 16 points. Mamie McKinney pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Alabama's Bivins posted a game-high 30 points, while Sipe added 20 points. The two combined to hit 10 treys for the visitors.

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