Lady Bulldogs Mess With Texas

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Mississippi State opened its NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament run with a stunning 71-63 win over Texas Saturday afternoon in the Nationwide Arena on the Ohio State campus.

The 11th-seeded Lady Bulldogs now advance in the Berkeley Region and will face either 14th-seeded Sacred Heart of third-seeded Ohio State in a quarterfinal matchup on Monday night at 6 p.m. CT. That contest will be televised regionally by ESPN2.

The Lady Bulldogs improve to 23-9 and can match the school record for victories in a season by winning Monday. MSU is making its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance and first since 2003. Ironically, the MSU ladies have now reached the second round in four straight tournament appearances. For sixth-seeded Texas, the season ends at 21-12.

MSU pulled the upset Saturday by playing tenacious, physical defense. The Lady Bulldogs piled up a massive advantage on the boards in the opening 20 minutes. In the second half, MSU withstood both a furious Texas rally and heavy foul trouble to snag the victory.

The Lady Bulldogs also won in atypical fashion, only hitting two 3-pont baskets. After missing its first free throw in the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 21 straight free shots.

Texas held its last lead in the contest at 19-18 with 5:42 left in the opening half. The Lady Bulldogs then reeled off a 12-0 run, essentially seizing the momentum for good. MSU started that run when Alexis Rack hit a 3-point basket. The run ended with Rack converting an old-fashioned 3-point play.

The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed a plus-12 rebounding advantage in the opening half and led 34-24 at halftime.

A 3-point play by Armelie Lumanu on the opening possession of the second half stretched the MSU lead to 37-24.

As the second half progressed, both Lumanu and Rack picked up their fourth personal fouls. However, the strong inside presence of Chanel Mokango, the offensive game of Mary Kathryn Govero and the leadership of Robin Porter helped the Lady Bulldogs maintain a double-digit lead.

MSU still held a 57-47 lead with 4:57 remaining. The Lady Longhorns then made their final push, as a 12-2 run tied the teams 59-59 with 2:17 remaining.

On the offensive end, Mokango answered with a jumper in the lane with 1:50 left. Tysheka Grimes then made a steal on the defensive end, leading to a fast-break opportunity for Rack. Rack was fouled and hit both free throws for a 63-59 advantage with 1:24 left.

After two misses on the offensive end by Texas, the Lady Bulldogs completed a string of 10 straight free throws to close out the victory.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 24 of 60 shots from the field (40.0 percent), 2 of 11 shots from 3-point range (18.2 percent) and 21 of 22 shots from the foul line (95.5 percent). The Lady Longhorns hit 17 of 55 shots from the field (30.9 percent), 6 of 21 shots from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 23 of 30 shots from the foul line (76.7 percent).

MSU held a 41-36 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 11 assists and 19 turnovers, while the Lady Longhorns had 12 assists and 20 turnovers.

Rack paced MSU with 20 points, while Chanel Mokango had 15 points. Mary Kathryn Govero and Lumanu each added 11 points. Tysheka Grimes and Lumanu each had 10 rebounds.

Earnesia Williams led Texas with 17 points, while Brittainey Ravern scored 15 points and Kathleen Nash scored 11 points.

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