Florida’s Jordan Jones hit two free throws with 2.7 seconds left to lift the Lady Gators to the victory. Florida completed a season sweep of MSU, having won earlier 55-52 in Starkville. The Lady Gators also bypassed the Lady Bulldogs in the conference standings. UF is now 13-10 overall and 6-4 in league play, while MSU is now 15-9 overall and 6-5 in league play.
MSU rallied from a 34-33 halftime deficit by scoring the first nine points of the second half. The Lady Bulldogs actually ran that lead to the game’s largest, at 52-40 with 12:26 remaining. Florida eventually pulled ever on a pair of free throws by Jones with 2:25 remaining.
The teams were again tied at 62-62 when Chanel Mokango hit a jumper with 44 seconds left. MSU held defensively but could not convert a game-winner as Armelie Lumanu missed a 3-point shot attempt in the waning seconds.
In the first overtime, MSU’s Tysheka Grimes hit a 3-point basket to place the Lady Bulldogs on top 69-68 with 33 seconds remaining. At the 17-second mark, UF’s Lonnika Thompson hit a 3-point basket to give the Lady Gators a 71-69 lead. For MSU, Alexis Rack was fouled on a shot attempt with seven seconds left. Rack hit both free throws to force the second overtime.
In MSU’s fourth second overtime period in school history, two free throws by Mokango gave MSU a 73-71 lead. A 3-point basket by Jones capped a 5-0 run as UF took a 76-73 lead. MSU got an answer with Mary Kathryn Govero hitting a 3-point basket.
A layup by Mokango tied the game 78-78 with 1:11 left. However, MSU missed a shot and turned the ball over twice on its final three possessions.
In the opening half, the Lady Bulldogs started strong, rolling out to a 15-9 advantage. The Lady Gators answered with a 12-0 run for a 21-15 lead. UF held that lead the remainder of the half until Alexis Rack hit a 3-point basket with 32 seconds left. The Lady Gators answered as the half expired for the 34-33 lead at the break.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 28 of 86 shots from the field (32.6 percent), 7 of 35 shots from 3-point range (20.0 percent) and 15 of 17 shots from the foul line (88.2 percent).
The Lady Gators hit 25 of 66 shots from the field (37.9 percent), 9 of 21 shots from 3-point range (42.9 percent) and 21 of 29 shots from the foul line (72.4 percent).
Florida held a 54-50 rebounding advantage. MSU had 17 assists and 16 turnovers, while UF had 17 assists and 23 turnovers.
Mokango led MSU with a career-high 22 points - all coming in the second half and overtimes. Rack and Govero each scored 14 points, while Tysheka Grimes returned from her injury to add 10 points to the MSU cause. Lumanu had a career-high 16 rebounds to go along with eight assists.
Florida received 21 points from Jones, including a 11-of-11 night at the foul line. The Lady Gators had double-doubles from Steffi Sorensen (12 points, 11 rebounds) and Sharielle Smith (10 points, 13 rebounds). Thompson also added 11 points, including all nine of UF’s points in the first overtime.
The Lady Bulldogs remain on the road for a showdown Thursday at South Carolina. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT in the Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C. After that, MSU hosts in-state rival Ole Miss in a 4:30 p.m. start Sunday.
While the MSU-South Carolina contest will not be televised, MSU and UM will be shown nationally by ESPN2.