The Lady Bulldogs (16-9, 7-5) took their first lead, 7-6, in the game at the 17:28 mark of the first half on Keisha Stringfellow's basket. MSU went on an 11-point run to extend the lead to as many as 14 at 37-23 with just over six minutes left to play in the first half. State took a 47-34 lead into the dressing room.
State held on to that lead until freshman Brittany Jackson hit her fourth three-pointer to give UT (21-3, 10-1) a one-point advantage at 73-72 with 4:09 left in the game. In the final four minutes, the lead changed hands four times. The Maroon and White took its final lead at 78-75 with 50 seconds remaining on a basket by LaToya Thomas.
Lawson scored the Lady Vols last five points in the contest nailing the three-pointer with 35 seconds to tie the game at 78 and the shot at the buzzer to win the game. Her 29 points led UT in the scoring column. The last time UT visited "The Hump," it was Lawson who hit the game-winning shot in the Lady Vols 79-75 win over the Lady Bulldogs.
Thomas led State with 31 points marking the seventh time to hit the 30-point plateau this season. Thomas became the first Lady Bulldog to reach 2,000 career points. She came into the game needing only four points to reach that feat which has been accomplished by only two men's basketball players at State. Former NBA players Jeff Malone and Bailey Howell are the only MSU players to reach the 2,000-point plateau.
Freshman Tan White contributed 24 points, 20 of which came in the first 20 minutes. White was 9-15 from the field with two treys in the first half. White had eight rebounds and eight assists to lead State in both categories.
The Lady Bulldogs had the hot shooting hand in the first period shooting 60.6 percent from the field, but the Lady Vols defense stiffened and State shot just 39 percent in the second half. UT shot an even 50 percent in the first half and improved to 56.7 percent in the final period.
"Our defense definitely got better today," said Fanning. "We talked about that after the last couple games. I just hope we carry this over to our next few games. We need to get up for everybody we play, not just Tennessee."
The Lady Bulldogs return to Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 21, against non-conference foe Morris Brown at 6 p.m.