Mississippi State saw its women’s basketball season come to an end Monday night. However, that end did not come without a fight.
The 11th-seeded Lady Bulldogs battled third-seeded and homestanding Ohio State to the wire, before falling 64-58 in a quarterfinal game at the Berkley Regional played inside OSU’s Nationwide Arena.
The Lady Bulldogs season ends at 23-10 - that is good for third most wins in school history. MSU played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. Ironically, the Lady Bulldogs saw a fourth straight tournament appearance end with a second-round loss.
Ohio State improves to 29-5 and will face either San Diego State or DePaul in regional semifinal action Saturday in Berkeley, Calif.
The Lady Bulldogs actually held a 58-54 lead after a 3-point play by Alexis Rack with 6:43 remaining. However, MSU would not score again in the contest. The Buckeyes closed the deal with a game-ending 10-0 run.
The contest was close throughout. The game included eight ties and 17 lead changes. MSU’s largest lead was at 11-6. Ohio State grabbed its largest lead at 37-31 by breaking a 31-all tie with the final basket of the first half and the first two baskets of the second half.
Not to be deterred, the Lady Bulldogs bounced right back. A 3-point basket by Rack cut the OSU lead to 42-41 with 15:59 left. MSU finally grabbed the lead when a 6-0 run was capped by a layup from Armelie Lumanu. The Lady Bulldogs led 49-48 with 10:41 left.
A pair of free throws by Lumanu gave MSU a 51-50 lead and a putback by Grimes gave the Lady Bulldogs a 53-52 advantage. A layup by Jantel Lavnder gave the Buckeyes a 54-53 lead.
The Lady Bulldogs battled back on top by a layup from Lumanu, followed by a steal and the old-fashioned 3-point play by Rack.
Ohio State then forced a 58-58 tie with 3:35 remaining. The Lady Bulldogs followed by missing a jumper and putback on their offensive end. The Buckeyes then grabbed their final lead when Lavender bulled her way to the basket, drew a foul and hit both free throws.
The Lady Bulldogs could not recover, missing two more additional shots and turning the ball over three times in the final 1:45.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 23 of 63 shots from the field (36.5 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 6 of 9 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Buckeyes hit 22 of 52 shots from the field (42.3 percent), 2 of 11 shots from 3-point range (18.2 percent) and 18 of 24 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).
OSU held a 38-37 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 10 assists and 15 turnovers, while the Buckeyes had nine assists and 13 turnovers.
Grimes paced the Lady Bulldogs with 22 points, including 20 points in the first half. Rack scored 19 points, including three 3-point baskets. For the season, Rack set a new school record with 86 3-point baskets. Chanel Mokango had a team-high nine rebounds. Lavender paced Ohio State with 20 points, while Star Allen scored 12 points. Allen also had a team-high 10 rebounds.
For MSU, seniors Robin Porter, Lauren Roberts and Donnisha Tate played their final game with Monday’s defeat.