Alwal powers Bulldogs past rival Ole Miss

Published 11:30 am Monday, February 24, 2014

Martha Alwal picked a great time to have the best game of her career.

Mississippi State’s junior center had 25 points and a career-high 23 rebounds, and scored the go-ahead basket in overtime as the Bulldogs beat archrival Ole Miss 72-70 Sunday afternoon in Starkville.

Alwal’s 23 rebounds were the most by a Southeastern Conference player this season, and fourth most in school history.

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“I knew it was a team smaller than I was so I just tried to go out there and dominate,” Alwal said. “In the past, I have taken some plays off, so I tried to not do that tonight. I just wanted to concentrate and really play as well as I could.”

Valencia McFarland scored 29 points and Tia Faleru added 19 for Ole Miss (10-18, 1-13 SEC), which led 55-42 with 13:25 left in regulation. The Bulldogs (18-10, 5-9) stormed back to take the lead, however, and went up 68-64 on a pair of free throws by Alwal with 1:31 remaining.

The Rebels tied it as McFarland scored one basket and assisted Faleru for another to tie it at 68 with under a minute to go.

Each team missed potential game-winning shots in the final seconds of regulation, then Alwal hit a jumper and Dominique Dillingham added another to put Mississippi State ahead 72-68 with 3:07 left in overtime. Diara Moore answered with a layup 15 seconds later for Ole Miss, but neither team scored again. Mississippi State missed its last three shots, and Ole Miss its last four — including a potential game-winning 3-pointer by Gracie Frizzell with 2 seconds left.

“It was one heck of a game,” MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. “Any Mississippi State fan with a pulse knows the importance of playing the school up north and beating their butts.”