Starkville, Miss.--Auburn’s late season run hit a roadblock on Sunday as the Tigers suffered a costly loss, falling 75-68 and putting AU on the outside looking in for an NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament invitation.
The Tigers (15-12) were in a near must-win situation in order to receive an NCAA invitation. By falling to under .500 in SEC play with a 6-8 record, Coach Nell Fortner’s team probably has to win the SEC Tournament to reach NCAA play.
Auburn opens the conference tournament on Thursday in Greenville, S.C., vs. Kentucky as the seventh seed. AU would have been the sixth seed with a victory vs. the Lady Bulldogs. However, Mississippi State star Tan White led the charge for the winners.
White personally outscored Auburn in overtime with 10 points to five for the Tigers, who were tied at 61-61 at the end of regulation after rallying from a nine-point second half deficit.
The Tigers were fortunate the game didn’t end in regulation. White made a three-pointer at the buzzer, but after five minutes of reviewing a closed-circuit monitor and discussing the situation, the officials waved off the goal and ordered five minutes of overtime.
Auburn didn’t scored until halfway through the period on a basket by Natasha Brckett and the home team held on for the victory.
White finished the game with 34 points and 12 rebounds was the difference. The senior hit 9-18 field goals, including 7-8 three-pointers. AU coach Nell Fortner said that White was terrific in all phases of the game and too much for the Tigers to handle on Sunday.
Brackett led Auburn with 22 points. She hit 7-20 field goals and was 3-7 on threes.
Junior forward Louise Emeagi added 17 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Nicole Louden scored 11 points, added six rebounds and four assists.
Auburn was whipped on the boards, 41-32, and and outshot 43.5 percent of 40.7 percent. Both teams were excellent on threes. Auburn hit 9-18 and MSU made 11-21.
Auburn was 11-14 at the foul line and MSU hit 10-13. The home team turned the ball over 19 times, four more than the Tigers.
Mississippi State improved its SEC record to 6-8 and is 17-10 overall.