By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State advanced to the Sweet 16 of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Monday night.
But it wasn’t easy.
It took two overtimes before the Bulldogs pulled away from Southern Miss, 74-66, reaching the third round of the WNIT for the first time since 2007.
“That was one heck of a basketball game,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. “You have to take your hat off to Southern Miss, they came in here and played. It was another great crowd and a great environment. I loved the fans tonight and that’s probably what really got us through. I’m not sure we deserved to win at times but we made enough plays down the stretch.”
MSU (21-13) shot 32 percent for the game and were just 2 of 16 from 3-point range but outrebounded the Golden Eagles 53-47 and had eight more offensive boards.
Breanna Richardson led the Bulldogs with 20 points on 7 of 17 shooting logging 44 minutes.
“I was just there in the right spots,” Richardson said. “I felt good and just kept attacking the hole. We were running the floor and the guards were getting me good shots.”
Martha Alwal notched her 30th career double-double, 17 points and 15 rebounds, with four blocks. Savannah Carter added 13 points and nine boards.
Southern Miss (27-7)saw its season end. Gillom Trophy winning guard Jamierra Faulkner ended her collegiate career with 20 points but also had 11 turnovers.
MSU hosts Auburn on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Tigers took both regular- season games, 82-74 here and 51-43 in Auburn.
Men’s NIT: The Southern Miss men (29-6) visit top seed Minnesota (22-13) in a quarterfinal game tonight.
It’s on ESPN at 8 p.m.