No. 4 MSU defeated by No. 5 Miss St. in second round of NCAA Tournament, 74-72
Following their 74-60 victory against Belmont University on Friday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 4-seeded MSU was defeated by No. 5-seed Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 74-72 in Starkville, Mississippi.
The Bulldogs drew first blood by scoring four points on two early fouls from MSU guard Morgan Green to take the early 4-0 lead. The Spartans would go back-and-forth with the Bulldogs in their scoring efforts and by the end of the first quarter the Spartans trailed the Bulldogs by a score of 19-17.
The second quarter mirrored the back-and-forth tone that was set in the first period, but the Bulldogs outscored MSU in the second quarter 21-17. By the end of the first half, the Spartans trailed Mississippi State by a score of 40-36. Sophomore guard Branndais Agee led the Spartans in scoring in the first half, going 4-for-5 from the floor with two 3-pointers and finished the half with 14 points. Redshirt junior guard Aerial Powers scored 10 with three rebounds.
Mississippi State found most of their offense in three players who combined for 26 of their 40 points. Sophomore guards Victoria Vivians and Morgan William scored nine points each, while junior guard Katora Chapel scored eight.
The third quarter started off with the Bulldogs getting out to an 11-4 run to establish a 51-38 lead, their largest of the afternoon. The Spartans were in dire need of offensive production and ended the quarter by scoring 14 unanswered points and taking a 52-51 lead over the Bulldogs.
The Spartans would continue their offensive rhythm into the fourth quarter with another six points to go on a 20-0 run spanning over nine minutes in two separate quarters. But 26 total fouls and 21 turnovers would turn out to be the Spartans’ achilles heel as time was running out. Two free throws from William with 0:20 remaining would be the final blow from the Mississippi State offense to take a 74-70 lead. After senior center Jasmine Hines sunk a set of free throws the Spartans were unable to draw anymore fouls or turn the ball over before the clock expired.
The Spartan’s loss on Sunday eliminated them from the NCAA Tournament bracket while the Bulldogs will advance to the Sweet Sixteen and play the winner of the UConn vs. Duquesne game on March 26. No. 1-seed UConn entered the tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in the country. The Huskies are 32-0 this season and are in pursuit of their fourth-consecutive NCAA Tournament championship.
Game time tip off for the Sweet Sixteen game has yet to be determined.