Big Second Half Lifts Mississippi State Over Kentucky
Mississippi State’s Tan White scored a game-high 23 points, including 16 in the second half, to lead three Lady Bulldogs in double figures en route to a 71-55 win over Kentucky Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Freshman center Sarah Elliott tallied a team-high 14 points while freshman forward Chante’ Bowman added 12 points, which ties her career high.
Mississippi State (16-9, 5-7 Southeastern Conference), which led by only three points (27-24) at halftime, stormed out of the locker room after intermission to pull ahead by 10, 46-36, on a three-pointer by White with 12:04 left in the game. The Lady Bulldogs would lead by as many as 17 points in the second half (64-47). Forwards Rebecca Kates and Mamie McKinney added 13 and 11 points, respectively, for MSU. Kates shot exceptionally well, shooting 5-of-5 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Cats in Starkville earlier this season 72-59.
“In the first half, I thought we were competitive with them on both ends,” UK Coach Mickie DeMoss said. “We did a good job on (Tan) White and I knew the second half she was probably going to look to take a little bit more of a role. I didn’t think we got the defensive stops in the second half that we were able to get in the first half. (Rebecca) Kates hit those two three-pointers while we were still in the game and that just chilled us. We had to help on penetration and they were able to kick it out and knock shots down.”
The Lady Bulldogs scored the first five points of the game, but the Cats battled back to take a 10-7 lead with a basket by Elliott. UK extended its advantage to 13-10 on a smooth put-back jumper by Elliot before Mississippi State rallied and took a 19-17 lead with 4:59 remaining until halftime. With the score tied at 23, the Lady Bulldogs scored the half’s last four points, heading into the locker room ahead 27-23.
To begin the second half, the Lady Bulldogs made each of their first four shots and jumped ahead by eight, 37-29, after two charity shots by McKinney at the 16:43 mark. A jumper by Tiana Burns capped off a 5-0 Mississippi State run and put the Lady Bulldogs ahead 48-36 with 9:55 to go. The Wildcats managed to whittle their deficit down to eight, 48-40, on a pair of free-throw shots by Danyelle Payne. MSU answered right back and regained their double-digit lead for good after a 7-0 run with 7:02 remaining.
“We talked about having the extra pass and having poise,” MSU Coach Sharon Fanning said. “We had lots of transition baskets. Tan (White) had really pushed and gotten in the paint, but she also made the extra pass. When you do that you really make a difference. I felt like that really showed good thinking on Tan’s part, and that we made good decisions as a team.”
Kentucky (14-13, 3-9 SEC) committed 18 turnovers in the game and the Lady Bulldogs scored 24 points off of UK miscues. Mississippi State connected on 48.2 percent (27-of-56) of its shots, including 85.7 percent (12-of-14) of its free-throws. The Wildcats shot 40.4 percent (23-of-57), including a 1-of-11 mark from beyond the arc. UK also converted just 50 percent (8-of-16) of their free-throws attempts.
The Wildcats shot 37.9 percent (11-of-29) from the field in the opening half. UK held White to seven first half points and the Lady Bulldogs shot 37.0 percent (10-of-27) from the floor. Kentucky managed only one assist in the first half to nine turnovers.
Kentucky returns to action Thursday as it travels to Columbia, S.C., for a re-match with the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Wildcats defeated the Gamecocks, 66-50, earlier this season in Memorial Coliseum. The game will be carried live on WLXG 1300 AM with Chris Cross.