Finding a way: Homestanding Bulldogs hold off Georgia women

Mississippi State's Chloe Bibby, right, defends against Georgia on Thursday night.

Staff Writer

It was a nervous time for the 6,493 Mississippi State fans who sat in their seats at Humphrey Coliseum.

That's because Georgia put the sixth-ranked team’s 28-game home winning streak in major jeopardy.

Georgia was blistering hot from the field with a three-point lead and 5 minutes remaining before MSU flexed its muscles. State finished the game on a 15-3 run and Georgia missed its last 10 shots from the field as the home-standing Bulldogs survived in a 80-71 win.

It was a game that MSU could have very well lost but showed that even on its worst of nights they can still find away. Despite the 10-straight missed shots by Georgia, it still shot 54 percent from the field and MSU was 41 percent.

“We hit a stretch where we weren’t very good, and Georgia is really good,” State head coach Vic Schaefer said. “It wasn’t our best night. They just had more juice than we did. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t keep up with them.”

The difference in the game for MSU was the turnovers. It forced 22 of those and converted them into 30 points while Georgia scored nine points off of 10 State turnovers.

Missed chances around the rim by MSU was a big reason why Georgia was able to hang around in the game. State had a 21-18 lead in the first quarter, but it built that up to 14 points midway through the second.

MSU let the visiting Bulldogs continue to feel like they had a chance, however. With every miss in the paint there seemed to be subsequent bucket by Georgia on the other end and it cut that 14-point lead to 42-33 at the break.

The start of the third quarter saw more of the same. State continued to miss in the paint, and Georgia couldn’t miss. Georgia hit nine of its first 10 shots to begin the third cutting that nine-point lead down to two. That lead stayed at 59-57 heading to the fourth as Georgia had MSU on the ropes.

For the first time in the game, Georgia took the lead on a three-point play and another bucket and it held a 68-65 advantage with 5:26 remaining in the game.

MSU went into a timeout with under 5 minutes remaining trailing by a point and came out of it on a mission to put the game away.

Over the next 3 minutes, State went on an 11-0 run sparked by five-straight points from Anriel Howard to take that one-point deficit and get a lead back at eight points. That killed the visitor’s spirits and was enough to allow MSU to survive at home.

“We decided to get out of the press and hunker down a little bit," Schaefer said. "We’re just so bad defensively right now. When it got down to crunch time, we didn’t flinch. I thought our veterans really answered the bell.”

It wasn’t State’s best game and was among Georgia’s best, but it was the Magnolia State Bulldogs that pulled the win out. It was thanks, in large part, to what Chloe Bibby was able to do with her career high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 4-of-6 3-point shooting.

“We had four seniors leave and I had to step up,” Bibby said of her recent surge. “My teammates have been helping me so I’ve been able to improve and be productive.”

Teaira McCowan struggled in the post for the better part of three quarters, but she fought her groove in the fourth quarter. McCowan had 18 points and 21 rebounds with 13 of those boards on the offensive end. Howard had 18 points and four steals and Jordan Danberry had 12 points despite a rough shooting night going 4-of-16.

MSU (15-1, 3-0) advanced its regular season SEC winning streak to 19 games with the victory. The Bulldogs put that winning streak on the line on Monday at Auburn for a 6 p.m. tipoff.