By NEMS Daily Journal
The suspense ended Monday night, as Mississippi State learned that it’s headed to the NCAA women’s tournament for a second straight year.
Now, the Lady Bulldogs must steel themselves for a game against the nation’s leading scorer in the Steel City.
MSU (19-12) is a No. 7 seed in the Dayton Regional. Sunday at 1:30 p.m., the Lady Bulldogs will meet Sun Belt Conference champ Middle Tennessee State (25-5) in a game seen on ESPN.
Middle Tennessee senior Alysha Clark is the nation’s leading scorer for the second year in a row. She’s averaging 28.7 points per game this season.
The winner will advance to a possible second-round matchup with No. 8 Ohio State (30-4), the region’s second seed. Women’s basketball kingpin Connecticut (33-0) is the region’s top seed.
Last year, Mississippi State entered the tournament as a No. 11 seed and stunned Texas 71-63 in the first round. Ohio State beat the Lady Bulldogs 64-58 in the second round.
MSU returns four starters from that game – all seniors – led by guard Alexis Rack, the SEC’s fourth-leading scorer (17.1).
Middle Tennessee is on a 16-game winning streak. But the Blue Raiders needed 48 points from Clark – including the winning bank shot with 1.8 seconds left – to subdue Arkansas-Little Rock in the Sun Belt finals.
MSU split its last 10 games, losing 76-65 to Kentucky in the SEC semifinals on March 6.
The Lady Bulldogs are one of six SECteams in the field, led by Tennessee – the top seed in the Memphis Region.
The Lady Vols have appeared in all 29 NCAAtournaments.
Also in the field: Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Vanderbilt.