OXFORD – It was night and day from the first half to the second half for the Mississippi State women's basketball team Thursday night.
The Bulldogs (11-13, 3-8) fell prey to a second half comeback by the Ole Miss Rebels (9-15, 2-9), as the Rebels earned a 65-51 victory inside Tad Smith Coliseum on Valentine's Day.
"They really took the fight to us," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "You really don't need to look any further than right here at me. It's my responsibility. Obviously, I didn't have my kids ready to play. I'm disappointed in myself more than anything."
MSU beat Ole Miss 72-57 on Jan. 27 in Starkville in the first meeting of the season. The Bulldogs were looking to extend their six-game winning streak against the Rebels and two-game winning streak against Southeastern Conference foes.
"I thought (Thursday's) game was tale of two halves," Ole Miss head coach Brett Frank said. "I felt like at halftime our kids took some ownership."
MSU only managed to score 16 points in the second half.
The Bulldogs found themselves ahead 35-27 at halftime. It didn't last.
"I've been saying I was anxious to see how we'd handle a little success," Schaefer said. "I've seen us handle adversity and come back and play well. We had won two in a row and three of our last four. I was anxious to see how we'd handle success. We obviously didn't handle it very well."
Ole Miss opened the second half on a 13-4 run. Kenyotta Jenkins' two free throws at the 13:36 mark gave the Rebels their first lead of the game at 40-39.
"We don't get any offensive rebounds and they're getting it and running," Schaefer said. "We weren't getting back. Their energy was my main concern coming in. I thought they would really get it and try to go in transition. It's been an Achilles all year. I used all my timeouts to stop it all."
MSU's Kendra Grant knocked down one free throw on the other end to tie the game at 40-40. Ole Miss's Gracie Frizzell answered on the very next possession with a 3-pointer to give the Rebels back the lead at 43-40 for good.
"I guess we got comfortable," Grant said. "(We) just took our foot off the gas when it should have been there the whole time. They were beating us in transition up and down the floor. I guess we just let up."
The Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback late. MSU scored nine-straight points late in the game to pull within eight at 59-51, but Ole Miss took advantage of free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
MSU raced out to an early 10-2 run to start the game. Jenkins knocked down two free throws at the 13:36 mark to end the Bulldogs hot start.
In the first meeting, MSU held Ole Miss to 27.3 percent shooting from the field. The Rebels had a better go of it the second time around shooting 37.7 percent.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over 19 times with 11 of those coming in the second half.
The Rebels were led by Valencia McFarland's 19 points. Tia Faleru recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jenkins added 10 points.
Grant paced MSU with 16 points. Martha Alwal recorded her SEC leading 13th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 boards. She only managed to score two points in the second half.
The Bulldogs return home Sunday to take on the LSU Tigers. Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. inside Humphrey Coliseum.