STARKVILLE, MISS. | Despite a career-high 27 points by Erika Ford, Mississippi State still defeated the Georgia Lady Bulldogs 80-67 at Humphrey Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.
State (16-7, 3-6 SEC) used a 9-0 run early in the first half to grab a lead, gradually expanded that margin to 18 points late in the period and then withstood several rallies by Georgia (15-7, 3-6 SEC) in the second stanza.
‚ÄúI was proud of the way we competed but give Mississippi State, they played well,‚Äù head coach Andy Landers said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm proud of the way we continued to compete in the second half and the way we corrected some of the things we didn‚Äôt execute well in the first half. I am disappointed that, after two days of practicing the things we thought could hurt us, we allowed them to come out and hurt us with those things throughout the first half.‚Äù
The Lady Bulldogs pulled within 71-65 on a Krista Donald layup with 2:22 remaining; however, Martha Alwal answered with a layin of her own on the other end. Following a missed baseline jumper by Merritt Hempe, Katia May knocked down a jumper with 1:25 left to put State back up by 10 points.
Alway and May led State with 20 and 17 points, respectively, while Breanna Richardson added 13, 11 in the first half.
Tiaria Griffin added 11 points for Georgia.
A quick 9-0 run gave State a 15-7 early lead and the game‚Äôs first significant edge. Alwal opened the surge with an old-fashioned 3-point play followed by consecutive 3-pointers by May.
State‚Äôs lead eventually reached 18 points at 41-23 with 4:19 left in the first half before Georgia began a furious surge to end the period. Ford scored nine points in a 12-2 run over the final 2:26 that trimmed the margin all the way seven points at the intermission.
Ford finished the first half with 18 points and added nine more in the second stanza.
‚ÄúI thought she was terrific,‚Äù Landers said.
The Lady Bulldogs actually made one more field goal than State in the first half; however, State converted on 14-of-17 trips to the line to help build its large lead.
Georgia got closest at 46-41 on a Donald layup with 18:26 remaining the game, but Savannah Carter canned a long 3-pointer late in the shot clock to open a 7-0 surge that put State back up 54-41 less than three minutes later.
The Lady Bulldogs pulled with seven three times before making it a two-possession game with just over two minutes left on the clock but could not get any closer.
Georgia will enjoy an open date from SEC competition this Thursday and then host Ole Miss next Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum.