Credit: Mississippi State Athletics
Despite being limited to seven players entering the contest, No. 21/21 Mississippi State women’s basketball battled through five ties and 11 lead changes before falling to Miami (Fla.) 74-68 inside historic Humphrey Coliseum on Wednesday.
Mississippi State is now 8-1 on the season.
“I am a proud coach,” said head coach Sam Purcell. “To have the week that we had in Houston and then to come home to the obstacles that were thrown at us. I had seven players in the locker room that said ‘Coach, give me a jersey and we will find a way’. I couldn’t be prouder of them in a night where we were just a couple points shy in the fourth quarter.”
The Bulldogs were down two starters to injury and three total post-players were unavailable. Mississippi State was outrebounded for the first time this season as Miami (Fla.) held a 49-23 advantage on the glass.
Graduate student guard Lauren Park-Lane finished with 20 points and 10 assists in 39 minutes for her third-straight point-assist double-double, while junior forward Nyayongah Gony surpassed career-highs in points, rebounds, minutes and blocks with seven points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in 39 minutes.
“I am just so proud of her. She gave it her all at a position that she is usually not at,” Park-Lane said of Gony. “She did her best and I think we all should be proud of her. She showed a lot of heart and that’s one thing that Coach Purcell said is that we grew up a lot tonight. It doesn’t matter what is going on, whoever is here is going to show up and is going to play. She was the definition of that today.”
Mississippi State dished out 20-plus assists in the effort – its second-straight game with 20-plus team assists. The Bulldogs converted on 12-30 from three-point range and have knocked down 26 threes over the last two contests. The 26 threes over a two-game stretch is a program record.
The Bulldogs raced out to a 11-2 lead over the first three and a half minutes of action behind a trio of threes from three different players. A three from Park-Lane provided the Bulldogs with its largest lead of the game at 15-6 at the 4:51 mark of the first quarter. Miami (Fla.) responded back with a quick run that pushed the score to 17-15, but Mississippi State converted on four threes in the initial quarter to lead 20-18 at the end of the frame.
Mississippi State forced their visitors into five turnovers in the second quarter behind two key steals from freshman guard Miracle Sheppard to take a 37-34 lead into the break.
The third quarter featured a back-and-forth affair that saw Miami (Fla.) have a 16-13 advantage in the frame.
With the score tied 50-50 entering the final quarter, sophomore guard Debreasha Powe responded to a quick basket by the Hurricanes with a corner three to make it 53-52 before Miami (Fla.) knocked down a four-point play to take a 56-53 lead. Powe’s three marked the final lead of the night for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State tied a season-high 19 turnovers on the night and held a 21-7 lead on points off turnovers. The Bulldogs have forced 10-plus turnovers in all nine games.
Mississippi State hits the road to take on UT Chattanooga on Sunday on ESPN+.