November 21, 2012 9:20:35 AM
PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico -- The Mississippi State University women's basketball team dropped a 61-59 heartbreaker to Winthrop University on Tuesday in its first game at the Hardwood Tournament of Hope.
Dequesha McClanhan hit a baseline jumper as time expired after Winthrop moved the ball the length of the court in 3.9 seconds. MSU's Martha Alwal had tied the game with a basket.
"It's disappointing for our kids," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "This type of game is a hard lesson to learn from. I'm sure looking back you could find one possession that could have been the difference. I just feel sick for our kids after this tough game, but we have to get ready to bounce back tomorrow."
After a nip-and-tuck first half, the Bulldogs built a nine-point advantage midway through the second half. A big rally to end the half gave MSU a 26-23 halftime lead.
In the second half, MSU (2-2) stretched the lead to four on a Darriel Gaynor 3-pointer. The Lady Eagles (2-1) battled back for two ties before the Bulldogs surged ahead again.
Alwal scored four points in a 6-0 run as MSU built a 37-31 lead. After Winthrop whittled the lead back down to two, MSU took the game's largest lead, 51-42 with 6 minutes, 47 seconds remaining.
A layup by Carnecia Williams created the nine-point push. A basket by Katia May kept the Bulldogs in that lead at 53-44.
Winthrop scored the next 13 points. The Lady Eagles moved the ball inside and made their way to free throw line. After hitting 1 of 7 free throws in the first half, Winthrop hit six straight to start the 13-0 run.
A 3-pointer by Diana Choibekova gave Winthrop a 55-53 lead with 3:31 left in regulation.
The Bulldogs trailed 59-55 before mounting one final push. A layup by Sherise Williams brought MSU within two with 1:08 left. The Bulldogs followed with back-to-back defensive stops, setting up Alwal's game-tying shot.
MSU hit 22 of 66 shots from the field (33.3 percent), 4 of 9 shots from 3-point range (44.4), and 11 of 13 shots from the free-throw line (84.6). The Lady Eagles hit 22 of 56 shots from the field (39.3), 5 of 13 shots from 3-point range (38.5), and 12 of 21 shots from the foul line (57.1).
Winthrop held a 41-38 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 16 assists and 16 turnovers, while the Lady Eagles had nine assists and 20 turnovers.
Alwal had 23 points and 13 rebounds, while Kendra Grant had nine points.
Choibekova led Winthrop with 17 points, followed by McClanahan and Samiya Wright with 13 points apiece. Schaquilla Nunn posted a triple-double with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots.
MSU will face the University of California-Santa Barbara at 1 p.m. today.