Sometimes traditions are hard to overcome.
Mississippi State entered Thursday night’s game 0-36 all-time against Tennessee.
The 13th-ranked Bulldogs appeared to be headed for their 37th straight loss to the Lady Vols after falling behind 55-43 in the third quarter. But MSU mounted a feverish comeback in the fourth, outscoring No. 19 Tennessee 15-3 in the final quarter to force overtime.
The Bulldogs made three shots in the extra period including a 3-point play by Victoria Vivians and made a defensive stop in the final 17 seconds to hang on for a 65-63 victory.
“This team showed a tremendous resilient side tonight,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. “There’s not a lot of teams that could’ve come back in the fourth quarter against Tennessee at all down 12. (Tennessee) was playing so well and these kids changed the game.”
State (18-4, 5-3 SEC) shot 32.9 percent for the game and received 14 points each from Vivians and Dominique Dillingham. Morgan William added 11 points and seven assists while Chinwe Okorie chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Bulldogs committed a season-low five turnovers for the game and outrebounded Tennessee 20-10 on the offensive end.
Mississippi State left its starters in for the entire first quarter and was able to build a 17-16 lead.
Tennessee’s Jordan Reynolds hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game at 33 at halftime. The Lady Vols carried that momentum into the second half starting on a 16-4 run and went on to outscore State 22-10 in the third quarter to take a 12-point lead.
Mississippi State mounted a feverish comeback in the fourth and tied the score at 58 with 1:55 on a pair of Vivians free throws. With the same score, Vivians had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but her one-handed 3-pointer in the corner skipped as the horn sounded.
“I’m really proud of the way we executed in the fourth quarter, both defensively and offensively,” Schaefer said. “It’s just a heck of a win.”
Tennessee has now lost four of its last five, falling to 3-4 in the SEC and 12-8 overall. The Lady Vols shot 43.6 percent from the field but committed 14 turnovers.
“That’s just the way this season has gone thus far,” said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick. “There are still a lot of games left and we’ve got to battle. I can’t complain one bit about our heart, our battle and how hard we played.”
Reynolds led Tennessee with 15 points followed by Adraya Carter and Diamond DeShields with 11 each.
MSU travels to Arkansas Sunday at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated the Razorbacks 80-55 in Starkville on Jan. 10.