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South Florida beats No. 6 Mississippi State 67-63 in overtime

NCAA Womens Basketball: American Conference Tournament-USF vs UConn

Mar 8, 2020; Uncasville, CT, USA; South Florida Bulls guard Sydni Harvey (3) drives the ball against UConn Huskies guard Crystal Dangerfield (5) in the second half of the American Conference Championship Semifinals at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

TAMPA, Fla. — Mississippi State got schooled by South Florida.

Elisa Pinzan scored two of her team-high 14 points on late free throws in overtime, and South Florida beat No. 6 Mississippi State 67-63 on Saturday night.

“It’s a very good teaching moment,” first-year Mississippi State coach Nikki McCray-Penson said. “They’re learning how to play a lot of minutes and being able to produce and perform and understand what we’re doing. “

The Bulldogs roster has one graduate, one senior, four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.

“This is a great game to learn from,” McCray-Penson said, “Obviously it doesn’t feel good to lose.”

Bethy Mununga hit two free throws with 28.9 seconds left in OT to give South Florida a 65-63 lead.

Mississippi State’s Aliyah Matharu missed a layup and failed to score after getting her own rebound before Pinzan pushed the lead to the final four-point margin, hitting two free throws with 5.4 seconds to go.

Eight players scored to help USF (2-1) beat its first top-10 ranked opponent.

“It’s a great big win,” USF coach Jose Fernandez said.

Rickea Jackson scored 18 points for Mississippi State (2-1). Matharu finished with 17 and Jessika Carter added 15.

South Florida, considered a frontrunner in the American Athletic Conference following the departure of UConn to the Big East, completed a short stretch of consecutive games against teams ranked among the top six. The Bulls were coming off a 67-62 loss to No. 4 Baylor on Tuesday.

“This is huge, especially how we played Baylor,” Fernandez said. “It was a game of runs. We got the stops we needed to.”

A tight fourth quarter saw the teams trade one-point leads before the session ended tied at 60.

After the Bulldogs took a six-point advantage in the third, Maria Alvarez hit a pair of 3’s as USF went on an 11-0 run and took a 52-47 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Matharu had a three-point play as Mississippi State opened the second half with a 7-0 run to up 38-36.

Sydni Harvey and Pinzan had seven points each as South Florida took a 36-31 at the half. The Bulls outscored Mississippi State 25-12 in the second quarter and held the Bulldogs without a field goal for seven minutes.

Mississippi State went 12 of 20 from the line in the first half, while USF converted 5 of 6 attempts.