Bri Kulas’ double-double could not save Missouri women’s basketball team Wednesday.
Missouri fell to Mississippi State 73-70 in the first round of the SEC tournament, despite Kulas’ 18 points and 11 rebounds in her final game as a Tiger.
With 7.9 seconds remaining, Mississippi State’s Jerica James missed one of her free throws, which gave Missouri an opening, but Maddie Stock’s ensuing missed three-pointer could not keep the Tigers’ season alive.
Fourteen lead changes highlighted the second matchup between the two teams. Mississippi State defeated Missouri 69-62 in the first game in January.
Missouri’s revenge plans started positively on the strength of Kulas’ 12 first-half points, but Mississippi State fought back from a nine-point deficit and led at halftime.
“I thought that run at the end of the first half really hurt us,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said.
It was foul trouble that ended up sinking Missouri, though. The Tigers, who finished 17-13, committed 23 fouls, and four players had at least four.
Kulas picked up her fourth foul with 14:29 left, forcing her to sit the bench for almost 7 minutes.
The Tigers nursed a one-point lead with 2:07 remaining, but Maddie Stock’s foul after a turnover gave the Bulldogs two free throws. Martha Alwal hit both and gave Mississippi State a lead it would not relinquish.
The loss ends Missouri’s second season in the SEC, but Pingeton said her team made progress.
“We’ve got a group of young ladies that are truly committed to the name on the front of their jerseys,” Pingeton said.
She singled out Kulas for her leadership.
“Definitely not the way I wanted to go out,” Kulas said. “But I love my teammates and I love my coaches.”
• Kenyotta Jenkins scored a go-ahead layup with 4 seconds remaining as No. 14 seed Mississippi beat No. 11 Arkansas 63-62.
The Rebels will play No. 6 seed Auburn Thursday.