COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tyasha Harris scored a season-high 23 points including the go-ahead basket with 2:01 left, as No. 1 South Carolina rallied from nine points down in the final quarter to outlast No. 9 Mississippi State 81-79 on Monday night.
Mississippi State (17-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) had several chances to go in front, but could not.
Rickea Jackson and Jordan Danberry both missed shots to put the Bulldogs back in front in the final two minutes. And South Carolina freshman Zia Cooke stole Mississippi State’s last inbounds pass with 4 seconds left and ran out the clock.
Harris scored the final five points for the Gamecocks (18-1, 6-0), who won their 12th straight and got a sixth victory in seven meetings with a Top-25 opponent this season.
South Carolina freshman Aliyah Boston had 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Mississippi State looked like it might beat its second straight No. 1 opponent — the first came when it famously ended UConn’s 111-game win streak at the 2017 national semifinals — as it went ahead 71-62 early in the final period.
But the Gamecocks used a 12-2 run to move back in front on Cooke’s three-point play and set up the final dramatic moments.
Jackson and Danberry had 16 points each to lead the Bulldogs, who saw their eight-game win streak snapped.
The Bulldogs did not score in the final 3:28 as they missed their final five shots.
South Carolina came out fast, as it has all season, with seniors Harris and Herbert Harrigan steadily helping the team to a 33-21 lead with less than seven minutes left to the half.
That’s when the defending SEC champion Bulldogs dug in to tighten things up with a 21-10 surge to cut South Carolina’s double-digit lead to 43-42 at the break.
Xaria Wiggins scored all eight of her first-half points in that stretch while Jackson had a three-point play and another bucket.
By the time Danberry shoveled a pass to 6-5 Promise Taylor for a close-in basket with 3.2 seconds to go, the Bulldogs were within a point and running into the locker room with cheers and smiles.
THE BIG PICTURE
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs look quicker and peskier this season without last year’s SEC player of the year Teaira McCowan. But speed could not contain Boston and South Carolina’s rugged inside players down the stretch.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks hadn’t been pushed in quite some time and gave a strong response about where they’re headed. Cooke and Boston, both freshmen, continue to shine while Harris, one of two remaining players from their 2017 national championship team, is a savvy, steady leader.
Mississippi State plays its second straight road game at Vanderbilt on Thursday night.
South Carolina starts a two-game road swing at Georgia on Sunday.
This article is written by Pete Iacobelli from The Associated Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.