Melanie Johnson offset five turnovers with a game-high 18 points, six rebounds and four of her team's 10 blocked shots to lead the Gamecocks (12-8, 3-5). Stacy Booker, a candidate for the NCAA's "Sixth Woman of the Year" award, was held to 0-for-7 shooting from the field, but still collected five rebounds.
"The good thing is we are penetrating better and being more patient offensively," said Mississippi State head coach Sharon Fanning. "I thought that we were listening and focusing better and that they did not get down mentally.
"We have to do a better job defensively and we have to get better position. To the girls' credit, we fought back hard and put ourselves in a position to win the game. If we play the way we did today, we will get better."
Ilona Burgrova's fast break lay-in with 15:01 remaining helped cap off a 10-2 run by South Carolina that stretched a two-point halftime lead by the visitors out to 10, but Reeder canned a pair of shots from the corner to fuel a 9-3 scoring spurt for State over the next five and a half minutes that brought the hosts to within four, 38-34. Trading baskets over the game's next five minutes, Porter's jumper in the paint with 40 ticks left cut the USC lead to just two.
Despite forcing Johnson to commit the Gamecocks' 22nd turnover of the contest just moments later, State would miss its final three shots from the field and South Carolina took advantage by nailing five of six free throws to seal the deal.
"We wanted to come out in the second half and swing the ball around more and get some good movement," Porter said. "We grabbed some momentum towards the end, but the shots just stopped falling for us. We are usually undersized against every team that we play, so we have to know how to be aggressive and rebound. It is just real disappointing that we still have a losing streak."
Neither team wowed any of the 793 fans on hand in the first period, scoring just 20 points in the opening 10 minutes of the contest while exhibiting shooting percentages just under 20 percent. After junior Natasha Henderson's jumper with 9:18 remaining in the opening stanza tied the game for the fourth time however, the Gamecocks used a mild scoring spurt to forge a six-point lead with 2:37 left, but were left with just a two-point advantage, 23-21, heading into the break following a Blessing Chekwa jumper and a pair of McKinney free throws.
Mississippi State will return to action on Thursday evening when it continues a four-game SEC homestand by hosting inter-divisional rival Florida (17-5, 5-4) in a 6 p.m. contest at Humphrey Coliseum. Thursday's tilt with the Gators is slated to be televised on a regional basis by Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast.