Lady Bulldogs Fall in SEC Tournament

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Mississippi State could not complete the hat trick Friday night. After sweeping LSU during the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs fell to the Lady Tigers 63-58 in a quarterfinal game at the Southeastern Conference Women's Basketball Tournament at Alltel Arena.

Third-seeded LSU improved to 18-9 and will face second-seeded Vanderbilt in semifinal action Saturday evening. The other semifinal matchup pits first-seeded Auburn against fifth-seeded Tennessee.

For the sixth-seeded MSU, the regular portion of the schedule concludes at 22-9. That ranks third all-time for most victories in a season. The Lady Bulldogs are hopeful of receiving an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament when the tournament field is announced Sunday, March 15.

MSU last played in the NCAA Tournament following the 2002-03 regular season.

Things started out much better for MSU in Friday night's contest. In its tournament opener, against South Carolina, the Lady Bulldogs needed 10 minutes to score and actually trailed by 18 midway through the first half.

Against LSU, things clicked earlier than that with the MSU ladies putting together a 7-0 run for a 17-11 lead with 7:21 left before halftime. The Lady Tigers then responded with a half-ending 16-4 run to grab a 27-21 halftime advantage.

In the second half, LSU guard Allison Hightower took matters into her own hands. Hightower hit her first eight shots of the second half and was a catalyst for a big 10-0 run by the Lady Tigers. LSU grabbed its biggest lead at 42-26 with 13:27 left in the contest.

From there, the Lady Bulldogs scratched and clawed their way back into the game. Outstanding defensive pressure fueled a 21-8 run by MSU. When Alexis Rack hit a layup with 7:13 left, the lead had been trimmed to 50-47.

MSU again got it back to a three-point deficit, at 57-54 with 3:27 left. Again, Hightower had the answer for LSU, hitting a spinning jumper in the lane to move her team back out of danger.

Hightower capped her career night with a new career-high 23 points on 10 of 17 shooting from the field. Her offensive firepower helped the Lady Tigers avenge a pair of regular season defeats to the Lady Bulldogs.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 17 of 52 shots from the field (32.7 percent), 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range (15.4 percent) and 22 of 28 shots from the foul line (78.6 percent). The Lady Tigers hit 26 of 51 shots from the field (50.9 percent), 2 of 6 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 9 of 13 shots from the foul line (69.2 percent).

LSU held a 33-31 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had seven assists and 15 turnovers, while the Lady Tigers had 12 assists and 17 turnovers.

Alexis Rack paced MSU with 14 points, while Chanel Mokango added 11 points and Robin Porter scored 10 points. Mokango paced the Lady Bulldogs with 10 rebounds, marking her second double-double of the tournament.

For LSU, LaSondra Barrett trailed only Hightower in her team's scoring column with 11 total points. Katherine Graham had a team-high seven rebounds.

Gene's Page Top Stories