MSU dropped to 13-10 overall and 3-7 in league play. The Lady Bulldogs have lost four straight conference decisions. Vanderbilt improved to 18-5 and 6-4. VU has now four straight in the series, after MSU had won the previous three matchups.
"When the game is on the line, the question is how do you respond?" MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "We had too many empty possessions both offensively and defensively when the game was in doubt. Right now, we are not tough enough to make basketball plays down the stretch to win games."
The Lady Bulldogs' only lead of the contest took place when Porsha Porter scored on the opening possession of the game. Vanderbilt then used a 10-2 run to build a 10-4 advantage. The Lady Commodores continued the early defensive pressure to stretch the lead to a 13-point advantage at 19-6.
MSU closed back within eight on a 3-pointer by Porter. Vanderbilt still maintained a nine-point advantage before a 7-1 run to close the half brought the Maroon and White within 29-26. MSU missed its final three shots of the half and still trailed by that margin at the intermission.
"Vanderbilt is a really good basketball team," Fanning-Otis said. "We struggled early to find some offensive rhythm. In this league, you have to play hard and you have to keep your composure. Right now, we are struggling to do that for 40 minutes."
The Lady Bulldogs fell back down seven points in the early stages of the second half. Six straight MSU points then capped an 11-4 run to bring the teams even. Back-to-back baskets by Porter and Diamber Johnson tied the game 40-40.
Vanderbilt again reclaimed a seven point lead before MSU forced one last tie at 54-54 with 4:05 remaining. From there, the Commodores got a go-ahead basket from Stephanie Holzer and a back-breaking 3-pointer Jasmine Lister with 2:45 left. That trey was one of only two made by the Commodores in the contest.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 26 of 70 shots from the field (37.1 percent), 4 of 13 shots from 3-point range (30.8 percent) and 3 of 7 shots from the foul line (42.9). The Commodores hit 27 of 57 shots from the field (47.4 percent), 2 of 14 shots from 3-point range (14.3 percent) and 9 of 12 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).
Vanderbilt held a 45-34 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had nine assists and 13 turnovers, while the Commodores had 21 assists and 19 turnovers.
Johnson paced the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points, while only making one turnover in 30 minutes at the point guard position. Catina Bett tied her career high with 16 points, while Martha Alwal had a team-best eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Holzer had a double-double for Vanderbilt with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Christina Foggie added 17 points.
MSU plays at LSU at 6 p.m. Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs return home in-state rival Ole Miss at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.