No. 12 Lady Vols escape Starkville after battle

Katia May, left, scored 14 points for Mississippi State, but it wasn't enough in a 67-63 loss to No. 12 Tennessee. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Katia May, left, scored 14 points for Mississippi State, but it wasn’t enough in a 67-63 loss to No. 12 Tennessee. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By Logan Lowery

Daily Journal

STARKVILLE – Mississippi State has had several notable accomplishments in women’s basketball. The Bulldogs have advanced to the Sweet 16 and produced No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the WNBA Draft.

But the one thing MSU has never done is defeat Tennessee. The Bulldogs were 0-34 against the Lady Vols entering Thursday night’s game.

Make it 0-35.

It was a one-possession game with 26 seconds remaining but No. 12 Tennessee did just enough to escape the upset with a 67-63 win.

The Lady Vols (14-3, 3-2) shot 49 percent from the floor but committed 22 turnovers in the process. Ariel Massengale and Bashaara Graves had 13 points for Tennessee while Isabelle Harrison chipped in 10.

Martha Alwal started the game strong for State (14-4, 1-3) with four points but picked up two early fouls by the 15:34 mark. Tennessee capitalized going on a 12-2 run over the next five minutes.

The Bulldogs were able to rally and cut the lead to 26-23 by halftime. State sparked a 5-0 run to close out the first half on a 3-pointer from Kendra Grant and a jumper by Jerica James.

The Bulldogs briefly narrowed the lead to one point (26-25) early in the second half but Tennessee was always able to keep its advantage from slipping away.

Mississippi State shot 40 percent from the field and were led by Grant, who scored a game-high 21 points in 30 minutes off the bench. Grant was 8 of 17 shooting including three 3-pointers.

Katia May added 14 points for the Bulldogs while Alwal narrowly missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Bulldogs return to action at Texas A&M on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Read more about the game at InsideMSUSports.com.

logan.lowery@journalinc.com