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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – While the University of Alabama remains proud of Foster Auditorium, the new home of its women’s basketball team, Mississippi State has also found the facility to its liking.

Trailing for most of the contest Thursday night, MSU notched its first Southeastern Conference victory of the season and a second straight win in this building. A late Kendra Grant 3-point basket broke a tie as the Lady Bulldogs posted a 66-61 victory.

“I had to knock it down, I was open and Diamber (Johnson) saw me,” said Grant, of her game-winning shot. “I knew I had to knock it down and I did.”

That basket came at the 1:18 mark and actually gave the Lady Bulldogs their first lead of the second half. Alabama missed two shots on its offensive end before MSU received possession after a loose ball went out of bounds.

Porsha Porter, back in the lineup after missing Sunday’s loss at Kentucky due to illness, sank two free throws to close out the Lady Bulldogs’ fifth straight win on the Alabama campus.

The Lady Bulldogs (11-5 overall, 1-2 SEC) have now won eight times all-time in Tuscaloosa, with seven of those wins coming in the last nine series meetings here.

“There were a lot of big plays,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. “Kendra hit a big 3 and Martha (Awal) came up with a big shot. Shamia (Robinson) also had a big shot. We had some rebounds with folks off the bench, and Diamber attacked the basket.”

The Lady Bulldogs struggled on the defensive end early. After a basket by Johnson gave MSU a 16-15 lead, The Crimson Tide grabbed a 26-20 lead with an 11-4 run. Thanks in part to a 3-point from Porter, the Maroon and White closed back within one.

Alabama (10-8 overall, 0-4 SEC) answered with the game’s next seven points to take a 33-25 lead with 3:28 left in the half. UA would run the advantage to 11 points before taking a 41-34 halftime lead.

In the opening half, the Crimson Tide hit 44.4 percent of its shots. Defensively, MSU changed some things around in the second half. Alabama missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the final half and also never made it to the free throw line in the final 20 minutes.

“Not allowing a free throw or 3-point basket in the second half was a real positive for this team,” Fanning-Otis said. “We stepped up and got better as a team. We found a way to come back and get a big SEC win.”

The Lady Bulldogs held Alabama to two field goals over the first seven-plus minutes of the final half. A jumper by Alwal brought MSU within two at 43-41.

Alabama quickly reestablished a six-point lead and held some type of lead until Grant hit a game-tying 3-point basket with 4:17 left. Alabama had only one field goal the rest of the way.

Two free throws by Porter again created a 61-61 tie with 2:26 left. Slightly more than a minute later, Grant hit the eventual game-winner.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 23 of 54 shots from the field (42.6 percent), 9 of 26 shots from 3-point range (34.6 percent) and 11 of 17 shots from the foul line (64.7 percent). The Crimson Tide hit 22 of 56 shots from the field (39.3 percent), 5 of 15 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 12 of 15 shots from the foul line (80.0 percent).

UA held a 37-34 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 14 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Crimson Tide had 11 assists and 20 turnovers.

Johnson paced four Lady Bulldogs in double figures with 22 points. Porter added 16 points, while Grant scored 13 points and Catina Bett scored 11 points. Porter’s efforts pushed the Chicago native past 500 career points.

“To have four players in double figures is a real positive for this team,” Fanning-Otis said.

Alabama received 15 points from Celiscia Farmer and 11 points from Jasmine Robinson.

The Lady Bulldogs host No. 19 Georgia at 2 p.m. Sunday.



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