Mississippi State out-toughs Lady Vols on 'We Back Pat' day

Elias Hubbard
January 23, 2018

Mississippi State went 7/18 from three, while the Lady Vols failed to make a a shot from downtown, going 0/8. The Lady Vols lost 84-70 at No. 5 Notre Dame on Thursday despite holding a 23-point lead early in the second quarter.

It was an emotional afternoon for everyone involved as it was the kickoff to the "We Back Pat" week where all 14 Southeastern Conference teams and many others around the country raised money and general awareness to the Pat Summitt Foundation and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.

Then, Tennessee traveled to College Station and lost to No. 17 Texas A&M 79-76 in overtime.

Tennessee fell to 16-3 and 4-2, while completing a stretch of four straight games against ranked opponents.

Mississippi State had the biggest lead in the game with an advantage of 19 at one point.

Tennessee had 16 turnovers in an overtime loss at No. 16 Texas A&M and 18 in an 86-70 victory at No. 10 SC.

State coach Vic Schaefer said it was fitting for his team to win the way it did on a night honoring Coach Summitt.

Schaefer said she doesn't think about misses - even bad ones - because she doesn't have time to do it. They've played in tough situations.

"We've got to find her a little bit better ways to give her opportunities to score, and she's got to continue to work hard", Warlick said. "It was a tremendous effort by our kids and this was a step forward for our program", he added.

Seniors Mercedes Russell and Jaime Nared carried the Lady Vols with 16 and 12 points respectively. That is a heck of a basketball team we just beat. They are now 4-2 in the SEC and trail the league-leading Bulldogs (6-0) by two full games.

Tennessee trimmed the difference to 53-44 when the fourth quarter ended and even got within seven points at 57-50 following two charity tosses by freshman Anastasia Hayes with 7:19 to play before the visitors from Starkville finished the game on a 14-2 run. After all, she said she knows she is like a closer in baseball and has to have a short memory because the next shot might come on the next trip. "Everybody in this room has seen that happen for the team wearing orange for many, many years, and for us to come in and kind of establish that early; I was just really, really proud of our kids".

"If you can go through the SEC undefeated you've done something really, really special", said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick. It is the first time this season the Lady Vols haven't hit a 3-pointer. "They'd had enough and they took it to us". We had plenty of chances, but just couldn't seem to get over the hump. She had 16 points against Tennessee and is averaging 11.9 this season, up from 6.3 last season when she mostly came off the bench. "Today was, for us, it was about toughness and competitive spirit". I just put my head down and drove and tried to go strong and finish the baskets. She hit all three of her shots and had four rebounds in the NCAA title game against Michigan State. Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan grabbed 18 rebounds herself, 10 of them coming from the offensive glass.

Russell and Nared were the only double-figure scorers for Tennessee.

"You can't make a lot of mistakes against Mississippi State". When Tennessee pushed, Mississippi State had the answer and that 13 point halftime deficit was too much to overcome.

No. 3 Mississippi State was in control from tip to final buzzer in a 71-52 victory over No. 6 Tennessee. Tennessee got within 26-22 as Hayes scored with 4:18 left in the half but the Bulldogs closed the half with a 13-4 run to lead by 13 at intermission.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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