The Mississippi State Lady Bulldog basketball team was in the game for most of the first half against the Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
Tennessee used a strong second half to beat the Lady Bulldogs for the 33rd-straight time with a 57-41 final Thursday night inside Humphrey Coliseum.
"I like the way we competed," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "We forced enough turnovers. I thought we scraped, but we missed some easy buckets."
The Lady Vols took an early 2-0 lead before MSU went on a 7-2 run to take a 7-4 lead. Tennessee answered with a 10-3 run of its own to take a 14-10 lead.
"It wasn't the prettiest game," Tennessee assistant head coach Holly Warlick said. "Both teams struggled in the first half but we found a way to win."
The Lady Vols ended the first half on a 8-0 run to take a 22-13 lead into the locker room at halftime.
"When you play for an extended period of time rotation is going to come into play," Fanning-Otis said of UT's run to end the half. "We didn't come up with a couple of possessions defensively that would have led to scores."
The Lady Vols opened the second half the same way they ended the first. They opened up on a 11-4 run to stretch their lead out to 33-17.
Mississippi State answered with a 14-4 run midway throughout the second half to pull within 10 points at 48-38.
Tennessee closed it down the stretch ending the game on a 9-3 run.
"We made a bucket and then we didn't bust it back down the floor and they made a layup," Fanning-Otis said.
The Lady Bulldogs went 5-for-34 from the field for 14.7 percent in the first half. Freshman guard Kendra Grant was 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 from 3-point distance in the first half. She led MSU with 11 points in the first half.
"Anytime you make a shot, it puts a pep in your step," Fanning-Otis said. "The fact that she was ready to shoot was important. The fact that some of her shots were not 3-pointers was important."
The Lady Vols were 11-for-30 in the first half from the field for 36.7 percent.
Shekinna Stricklen led Tennessee with 22 points. Cierra Burdick added 10 points. UT improved to 19-7 for the year and 10-3 in the Southeastern Conference.
Mississippi State was led by Grant's season-high 17 points. Senior Porsha Porter added 15 points. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 14-12 for the year and 4-9 in the SEC.
Senior Catina Bett fainted near the end of the game and did not return. Fanning-Otis said she was taken to the emergency room and that she was probably affected by dehydration.