Grant leads ‘Dogs to tourney win; Rebels edge Arkansas

Mississippi State guard Savannah Carter knocks the ball away from Missouri forward Kayla McDowell. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Mississippi State guard Savannah Carter knocks the ball away from Missouri forward Kayla McDowell. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)

Associated Press

DULUTH, Ga. – Kendra Grant scored 17 points, Martha Alwal added 16 to surpass 1,000 points for her career, and Mississippi State beat Missouri 73-70 in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament Wednesday night.

“I’m awfully proud of our kids,” said MSU head coach Vic Schaefer, who won his first postseason game with the Bulldogs. “I am so proud of the team, the perseverance. That was the word on the board tonight. The words were perseverance and resilience.

No. 13 seed Mississippi State (19-12) will play fifth-seeded Florida this afternoon. The game will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South or SportSouth and may be seen online at ESPN3. Florida won the lone meeting between the schools during the regular season.

Brianna Kulas finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Sierra Michaelis scored 16 for 12th-seeded Missouri (17-13). The Tigers have lost two straight.

The Bulldogs, who snapped a two-game skid and won an SEC tournament game for the first time since 2011, never trailed after Alwal’s two free throws made it 69-68 with 2:07 remaining.

In the closing seconds, Jerica James hit one free throw for Mississippi State, stole the ball from Maddie Stock and hit another free throw to make it 73-70 before Stock missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

Alwal became the 20th Bulldog to reach 1,000 points.

Ole Miss 63, Arkansas 62: Kenyotta Jenkins’ put-back with four seconds remaining propelled 14th-seeded Ole Miss.

Ole Miss (12-19) trailed 62-61 with 14 seconds remaining when Tia Faleru forced a steal of Bria Pitts of Arkansas (19-11) near mid-court. Jenkins – a senior from Potts Camp – then cleaned up a missed jumper by Faleru by sinking the game-winning basket.

Faleru finished with a team-high 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field to complement a team-high six rebounds. Valencia McFarland and Diara Moore each added 14 points for the Rebels.

Ole Miss advances to face sixth-seeded Auburn (16-13) at 7:30 p.m. today in a game televised on SportSouth.