Lady Bulldogs Drop Decision At No. 21 Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. – Mississippi State played competitive basketball Thursday night but could not do enough to get over the hump. The Lady Bulldogs were done in by a late 15-0 as MSU dropped a 70-60 decision to No. 21 Georgia in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played at Stegeman Coliseum.

MSU dropped its third straight while falling to 13-9 overall and 3-6 in league play. Georgia improved to 17-6 overall and 6-4 in league play. Georgia completes the season sweep, having won 68-51 earlier this year in Starkville. The Red and Black Bulldogs have now won six straight series meetings in their home arena.

Still, the Maroon and White hung tough. After an erasing an early 12-1 deficit, MSU still fell back down 10 points at the intermission. An early second-half surged found team teams tied 40-40 with 14:12 left. From there, the homestanding Lady Bulldogs scored the game's next 15 points and eased to the victory.

"If you play hard for 40 minutes, you learn how to win," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "I am proud of the effort tonight. Even in the last couple of minutes, we found a way to make plays and score some points. Turnovers were the difference in the ballgame. We were almost even in rebounds. We have to rebound more consistency, but we also have to take better care of the basketball."

Georgia scored the game's first seven points and quickly built a 12-1 lead before MSU's Kendra Grant hit a 3-point basket with 14:17 left in the first half. The Lady Bulldogs fell down by 11 before scoring seven straight points, including a 3-point basket by Diamber Johnson.

MSU later scored seven straight points with Grant hitting a pair of free throws for a 22-21 Maroon and White lead – the only lead for the guests the entire night.

Georgia moved back ahead on a layup by Erika Ford. The hosts scored the game's next eight points to take a 29-22 lead. Georgia moved into halftime with a 36-26 advantage.

MSU came storming out of the gates to start the second half. Behind the strong offensive and defensive play of Martha Alwal, the Lady Bulldogs pieced together a 14-4 run for a 40-40 tie.

Alwal converted an old-fashioned 3-point play before Johnson rammed home another 3-point basket. Alwal then got a putback for the tie. MSU would then go the next 4:27 without scoring as Georgia reeled off the game-deciding 15-0 run.

Georgia would build the lead to 22 before MSU closed the contest with game's final 12 points. A putback by Alwal as time expired created the final margin.

"If you play hard you will find ways to win," Fanning-Otis said. "It all starts with intensity. We had the intensity and focus you need to have to win in this league tonight. Now, we have to build on this and carry that same attitude into the Vanderbilt game."

For the contest, MSU hit 23 of 56 shots from the field (41.1 percent), 3 of 13 shots from 3-point range (23.1 percent) and 11 of 16 shots from the foul line (68.8 percent). Georgia hit 26 of 64 shots from the field (40.6 percent), 5 of 12 shots from 3-point range (41.7 percent) and 13 of 22 shots from the foul line (59.1 percent).

Georgia held a 39-38 rebounding advantage. MSU had 12 assists and 24 turnovers, while UGA had 12 assists and 17 turnovers.

Johnson and Grant each had 14 points apiece to pace MSU. Porsha Porter added 12 points, while Alwal scored 11 points. Johnson had five assists and three steals but turned the ball over six times. Alwal had a team-high eight rebounds and blocked seven shots.

Georgia received 16 points each from Khaalidah Miller and Jasmine Hassell. Meredith Mitchell was next with 11 points.

MSU hosts Vanderbilt 2 p.m. at Sunday in the Humphrey Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs will be celebrating National Women in Sports Week at this event, with numerous games and promotions available for the youngsters in attendance.

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