No. 5 Mississippi St beats No. 4 Michigan State 74-72
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Victoria Vivians scored 24 points and Breanna Richardson hit a crucial 3-pointer with 34 seconds remaining to lead fifth-seeded Mississippi State over No. 4 seed Michigan State 74-72 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Richardson's 3-pointer gave Mississippi State a 72-69 lead. Michigan State's Branndais Agee was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, but could only convert one of the free throws.
Mississippi State (28-7) led 51-38 early in the third quarter, but Michigan State responded with the next 14 points to take a 52-51 advantage going into the fourth.
Michigan State (25-9) extended its run to 20 straight points by midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went more than nine minutes without scoring.
Mississippi State fought back and the two teams traded the lead down the stretch with several dramatic baskets.
Michigan State was led by Agee's 21 points.
Tori Jankoska added 17 points for the Spartans. Jasmine Hines had 15 and Aerial Powers 14.
The game figured to be an intriguing matchup between Michigan State's balanced offense - which averages more than 75 points per game - and Mississippi State's in-your-face defense that gives up around 54.
It was the Bulldogs' defense that dominated most of the first half. The Spartans shot 11 of 22 (50 percent) from the field, but were hurt by 13 turnovers.
Mississippi State got some easy buckets from those turnovers - 14 points in all - which was a big reason the Bulldogs led 40-34 at halftime. Morgan William and Vivians both had nine first-half points.
William finished with 14 points, including two free throws in the final seconds.
Mississippi State looked like it might pull away for good when it stretched its lead to 51-38, but Michigan State finally found some room to work on offense. Powers started to get free for drives to the basket and Hines converted in the post on a few opportunities and also hit some free throws.
Michigan State led 58-51 with 7:44 left, but then it was the Bulldogs' turn to respond.
Vivians hit a much-needed 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs momentum and then Richardson made a layup to push Mississippi State ahead 61-60. Richardson hit an even bigger shot minutes later, pushing the Bulldogs to a likely matchup against No. 1 overall seed UConn in the Sweet 16.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs are now 33-3 at Humphrey Coliseum over the past two years. ... Mississippi State has a 22-1 record this year when it wins the rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Spartans 37-33.
Michigan State: The Spartans had to play on the road as a No. 4 seed because their home arena in East Lansing is being used for the Michigan high school basketball state playoffs.
Mississippi State travels to Bridgeport, Connecticut, for the Sweet 16.
Michigan State's season is over.
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