Losing Streak Continues for Mississippi State Women's Basketball

Mississippi State women's basketball has now lost three-straight after their home loss to Kentucky.

Mar 1, 2023; Greenville, SC, USA; Mississippi State Coach Sam Purcell watches action with Texas
Mar 1, 2023; Greenville, SC, USA; Mississippi State Coach Sam Purcell watches action with Texas / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State women's basketball has hit a wall. After a 5-game winning streak that included an upset over 9th-ranked, defending national champion LSU, the Bulldogs have lost their last three. Thursday night State (20-8, 7-6 SEC) fell at home to a lowly Kentucky squad (11-16, 4-9 SEC) 78-68.

The Bulldogs fell by double-digits on their home court to a team that the NET rates 144th nationally. That's an ugly loss to take for a team that's trying to secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

After State looked to be controlling the game in the opening minutes, the Wildcats caught fire, shooting 5-9 from three in the first quarter to jump out to a 27-22 lead. They cooled off considerably in the second quarter, allowing MSU to cut the lead to just one at the break.

After halftime, the Bulldogs seized momentum. They shot a blistering 63% in the third quarter, outscoring the Cats by 10 to take a 63-54 lead into the fourth. But that's where things fell apart. With the lead still at nine with 6:05 to go in the game, Mississippi State stopped scoring. Literally.

MSU missed its final five shots and turned the ball over seven times in that stretch. In the meantime, Kentucky once again found its shot and closed the game on a 19-0 to storm back on the road for a massive upset. State was outscored 24-5 in the fourth quarter.

Jessika Carter had a big performance with 20 points and 20 boards. Lauren Park-Lane and Erynn Barnum both went for 13 on efficient scoring nights. But elsewhere, scoring was hard to find. State posted just three bench points. By contrast, the Cats saw a remarkable 39 points off their bench, fueled by a 22 point performance by Saniah Tyler who was 6-8 from three.

Kentucky didn't dominate most key statistical categories. Even in points off turnovers, they only saw a slight edge over State. The key difference was in free throws. The Cats managed to get to the line 22 times, making 18. Meanwhile State struggled to get those opportunities, going 6-10 from the line.

Couple that with an absolutely dreadful fourth quarter of basketball, and this is the result. Mississippi State barely survived in their first matchup with Kentucky, winning in overtime in Lexington. This time the other shoe dropped.

Over the last two weeks, State has gone from looking like a team that could potentially push for a hosting spot in the NCAA Tournament to now being squarely on the bubble. They were projected as an 8-seed in ESPN's Women's Basketball Bracketology going into this game. Obviously this loss isn't going to drop them all the way out of the field, but falling to a double-digit seed isn't out of the question.

Now Mississippi State must go on the road for a pair of games against projected tournament teams in Alabama and Auburn. It's not getting any easier for them, and if this losing streak continues, making the tournament suddenly becomes far less of a sure thing. Whatever issues that are plaguing Sam Purcell's squad must quickly be resolved.