Mississippi State found its second gear at the right time Monday night.
After shooting 27.8 percent from the field in the game’s opening half, MSU scored the second half’s first 10 points and eventually held off Southern Miss 74-66 in a double overtime thriller played during the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum.
MSU (21-13) will now face Auburn (19-14) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a third-round game at Humphrey Coliseum. Auburn, which defeated Old Dominion 82-59 Monday night, won both regular season meetings between the two Southeastern Conference rivals.
Breanna Richardson led MSU with 20 points, while Martha Alwal added 17 points and Savannah Carter had 13 points. Alwal posted her 11th double-double of the season as she grabbed 15 rebounds. Carter fell one rebound shy of the distinction as she had nine boards.
The Bulldogs were credited with eight blocked shots, but none may have been bigger than Jerica James’ rejection of Southern Miss leading scorer Jamierra Faulkner in the closing seconds of a tied game in regulation. James also gave her team much-needed separation in the second overtime with a critical three-point basket as the shot clock expired.
Southern Miss (27-7) received 20 points from Faulkner, who was pressured into 11 of USM’s 26 turnovers by the rugged Bulldog defense. Tamara Jones added 11 points, while Jerontay Clemons and Brittany Dinkins each added 10 points for the Golden Eagles.