This one might just sting the worst.
The Auburn women’s basketball team came within precious minutes of putting together a signature win, but No. 9 Mississippi State came charging back, erased a 14-point second-half Auburn lead, and then spoiled Auburn’s upset bid 92-85 in overtime Thursday night in Auburn Arena.
Auburn led 60-46 with 3:40 left in the third quarter, shooting sharp and wreaking havoc on defense against a top-10 team. But then the Bulldogs flexed their muscle by cutting the lead down to 62-57 going into the fourth. Early in the final frame Mississippi State completed the comeback and took the lead.
Auburn clawed back to take it to overtime but Mississippi State’s Rickea Jackson hit a clutch shot with less than a minute left in overtime to put Mississippi State up four at 89-85, and that margin was enough for the visitors to escape the Plains with a victory. Jackson scored 34 points.
And Auburn tumbled down to 3-10 in SEC play, still without the big win that could’ve been. Auburn has suffered several tough losses in what’s become a bit of a lost season on the Plains, but Thursday’s could hurt the worst since it was in grasp. Auburn is 9-15 overall. Mississippi State moved to 23-4 and 11-2.
Senior Daisa Alexander scored 21 points for Auburn. Unique Thompson counted up a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds, with 15 and nine coming in the first half as the Tigers impressed.
Mississippi State used an 8-2 run in the fourth to turn a 67-64 Auburn lead into a 72-69 lead for the visitors.
Then Alexander and Thompson both hit two free throws each in the final 1:14 of regulation to get the game in overtime, but Mississippi State proved too strong in extra time.
“I thought our young ladies did a great job tonight, just playing hard,” Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said, steps outside a disappointed Auburn locker room. “They kept fighting. Mississippi State is ranked ninth in the country and I thought our kids gave them everything they could.”
Auburn lost by only five against Mississippi State in Starkville earlier this season, 78-73 on Jan. 30. The Tigers entered Thursday’s game riding a 65-60 win over LSU on Sunday.
But another upset slipped through the Tigers’ fingertips on Thursday.
“I told them that we’re doing just enough to stay in the game, but we’ve got to figure out how to do a little bit more to win it,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We’re staying right there, we’re in the game, we’re competing, but we’re not finishing it out, and we’ve got to figure out how to finish it out.”
Auburn continues its season on the road Sunday at Texas A&M.
Thompson’s double-double marked her 20th of the season. It was also her 40th of her career, tying the record career mark of Auburn great DeWanna Bonner.