Texas A&M upsets Mississippi State in SEC Tournament

Published 5:22 pm Thursday, March 2, 2023

GREENVILLE, S.C. — The first big upset of the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball tournament sent Mississippi State packing.

Sydney Bowles scored a game-high 19 points, Aaliyah Patty had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 13 seed Texas A&M took down No. 5 seed Mississippi State 79-72 in a second-round game on Thursday.

Mississippi State (20-10) had beaten Texas A&M (9-19) twice in the regular season. Now it will wait 10 days to find out its NCAA Tournament fate while the Aggies try to continue a Cinderella run in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon at 1:30 against No. 4 seed Ole Miss.

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“That’s a life lesson. That’s why I tell my young women never take a day for granted,” Mississippi State coach Sam Purcell said. “It’s an opportunity, and that’s the mindset we’ve had all year, every day is an opportunity, let’s make the most of it. Today’s one that hurts. It hurts, but at the same time, I think we have to look back at the course of the other opportunities we have and we caused it.”

Texas A&M is the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the SEC quarterfinals. It defeated Vanderbilt in the first round on Tuesday, 77-70, and would need to win five games in five days to complete an improbable run to the SEC championship and the league’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

Texas A&M erased a 10-point deficit early in the second quarter with a 22-2 run, and led 37-30 at halftime.

Mississippi State went nearly 7 1/2 minutes in the second quarter without scoring, and was 1-for-11 from the field in the period. The five points it scored were the fewest it has had in a quarter all season.

Mississippi State cut a 10-point deficit of its own to three late in the fourth quarter, with Debreasha Powe’s layup cutting it to 73-70 with 2:01 remaining. A clutch 3-pointer by McKinzie Green with 1:18 to go pushed it back to six, however, and the Aggies kept Mississippi State at bay.

Mississippi State never led in the second half.

Powe finished with 12 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs, and JerKaila Jordan had 12 points and eight rebounds. Jessika Carter led MSU with 18 points.

“We did some things that were uncharacteristic from us,” Purcell said. “We took too many quick shots, we quit talking in ball screens, and ultimately they punched us in the face.”