Mississippi State’s 12-game winning streak in women’s basketball is over. The 26-game regular-season win streak in SEC play is also over.
Perhaps the SEC isn’t as top-heavy in the sport as some thought.
The unranked Missouri Tigers went into Starkville on Valentine’s Day and upset the No. 5 Bulldogs, coming away with an 75-67 victory.
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It’s the third straight win for Missouri (19-7, 8-4 SEC) and it’s the fourth victory this season for the Tigers against a ranked opponent. It’s also just the second time ever that Missouri has beaten Mississippi State (22-2, 10-1 SEC) in women’s basketball. The first time came on Jan. 14, 2016.
After being outscored by five points in the first quarter, the Tigers came out on top in every period after. Shooting 83.3 percent from the free throw line helped Missouri seal the deal.
It was the Bulldogs' first regular season SEC loss since Feb. 26, 2017 (Tennessee).
Big game from Cunningham
The Tigers were led in this game by a stellar performance from senior guard Sophie Cunningham, who tallied 24 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists. Entering Thursday night, Cunningham was the reigning SEC Player of the Week and had averaged 22.4 points per-game over her last seven contests.
In the third quarter, Cunningham nailed a three-pointer to tie the game back up for the Tigers.
Cunningham drained four three-pointers in this game. Her third of the night gave her 2,000 points for her career, becoming just the third Mizzou player to reach the mark
.@sophaller is one of the most efficient scorers in D1. #1 in @SEC conf play avging 1.47 points per scoring attempt. That's like a FG% of 73.5% on 2s.— Her Hoop Stats (@herhoopstats) February 15, 2019
Oh she's also 13th in conf by assisting on 23% of her teammates' baskets.https://t.co/GoqhHFHtXg@MizzouWBB @CoachPingeton https://t.co/yKdwo78PZj
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Shots falling for all Tigers
As a team, the Tigers shot very well from the floor in this contest, knocking down 55.1 percent of their shots. In comparison, the Bulldogs connected on just 39.7 percent of their shots from the floor, a season-low mark.
Eight different Tigers scored and six different Tigers knocked down a 3-pointer. On this night, there was little the Mississippi State defense could do to stop Missouri from finding the bottom of the net.
The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs in bench points (20-13), points off turnovers (24-16) and points in the paint (30-24).
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Looking ahead in the SEC
With the loss, Mississippi State now has to share the top spot in the standings with No. 11 South Carolina. The Gamecocks beat Georgia for the 10th straight time Thursday night.
Trailing the Bulldogs and Gamecocks in the standings are No. 22 Texas A&M with an 8-3 mark in conference play, Missouri, and then Kentucky with a 7-4 SEC record.
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There are no more ranked opponents left on the Tigers’ regular season slate, so they’ll have a decent chance to improve their record and seeding heading into the SEC tournament.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State’s next game is at Texas A&M, and its regular season finale is at South Carolina on March 3. Both games figure to feature a lot of fireworks.
Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.