Bulldogs outlast USM in double overtime

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jerica James didn’t have the biggest stat line of the night. She just saved it all for when it mattered most.

The junior guard blocked a layup attempt by Southern Miss’ Jamierra Faulkner late in the first overtime, then hit a big 3-pointer in the second extra period that sparked the Bulldogs to a 74-66 victory in the Women’s NIT.

James’ 3-pointer with 2:26 left in the second overtime gave Mississippi State a five-point lead. She then assisted Breanna Richardson for a basket that made it 72-66 with under a minute left as MSU outscored Southern Miss 9-1 in the final overtime.

James had three of her seven points, and her only block and assist in overtime.

“One heck of a basketball game,” MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. “You take your hat off to Southern Miss. It was a great environment. I loved our fans tonight. We didn’t deserve to win at times. However, we made enough plays down the stretch to deserve to win. That is what postseason basketball is all about. The kids just keep hanging and keep battling.”

Mississippi State (21-13) advanced to face Auburn (19-14) at 7 p.m. Thursday in a third-round game in Starkville. Auburn, which defeated Old Dominion 82-59 on Monday, won both regular season meetings between the two Southeastern Conference rivals.

Richardson led Mississippi State with 20 points, while Martha Alwal had 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Faulkner led Southern Miss (27-7) with 20 points and six assists. Tamara Jones scored 11 points, while Jerontay Clemons and Brittany Dinkins had 10 apiece.

Jones’ 3-pointer with 1:37 left in regulation tied the game at 55. Faulkner missed a layup with under a minute left and Alwal missed two free throws with 17 seconds to go to send it to overtime.

Jones hit another big 3-pointer with 48 seconds left in the first overtime to pull Southern Miss within a point, 65-64. The Golden Eagles, though, missed two chances to win it in the waning moments.

James’ block of Faulkner with 24 seconds to go left USM’s deficit at one. After Mississippi State’s Savannah Carter missed two free throws that could have sealed it, Clemons was fouled with 8 seconds remaining. She missed the first of two free throws, then hit the second to tie it at 65.

After Dominique Dillingham missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, the game went to a second overtime that was all Mississippi State.

Alwal hit two free throws with 3:22 left to break the tie, and the Bulldogs went on to outscore Southern Miss 9-1 in the period.

Southern Miss was 0-for-6 from the field in the second overtime.