NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt nearly knocked off the No. 9 team in the country Thursday, but visiting Mississippi State owned the fourth quarter in a 68-52 win at Memorial Gymnasium.
The Commodores took a 50-46 lead into the final period thanks to an enthused and aggressive start to the second half. But Mississippi State scored the first six of the fourth to nudge ahead 52-50. Aliyah Matharu’s layup at the 4:53 mark completed a 12-2 run and forced a Vandy timeout.
Vanderbilt never quite recovered from there as it was outscored 22-2 in the final frame while shooting 1 of 11 from the field.
Freshman Koi Love had 19 points and nine rebounds for Vandy (12-7, 2-4 SEC). The Dores as a team, however, had 26 turnovers and shot just 32 percent from the field.
Vanderbilt next travels to Alabama (11-7, 1-4) for a 2 p.m. contest Sunday.
Mississippi State (17-3, 5-1 SEC) controlled the first quarter by scoring 22 of 24 points in the paint en route to a 24-14 lead. The Commodores had taken a 7-6 lead on a Love 3, but the Dogs responded with a 15-6 run.
Vandy went nearly 4 1/2 minutes without a field goal at one stretch.
The second quarter came to somewhat of a standstill as each team struggled to find the bottom of the basket. That changed when Matharu took advantage of a Vanderbilt turnover by knocking down a left-wing 3 that made it 29-18 in favor of the visitors.
That was the last ounce of momentum the visitors enjoyed that half. Vanderbilt exploded with a 12-2 run to end the second quarter highlighted by a Jordyn Cambridge steal, LeaLea Carter fastbreak and Love three-point play to make it 29-28.
Cambridge knocked down a pair of free throws before the period ended to send the teams to the locker room with the scoreboard showing a 31-30 score in favor of Mississippi State.
Vandy shot just 32 percent in the first half, but made 13 of 17 free throws.
Love drained her second 3 of the night, this one from the top of the key, to put the Dores in front 36-35 just 3 1/2 minutes into the second half. Vandy wound up owning the third quarter 20-15 and took a 50-46 lead into the vital fourth quarter.
Mississippi State has now won seven straight against Vanderbilt. Jessika Carter had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Bulldogs while Matharu finished with 14.
• Vanderbilt’s last win over a top-five team since Feb. 19, 2009 – a 73-70 victory over No. 3 Auburn.
• The Commodores’ last win over an opponent ranked in the Top 25 was Feb. 28, 2016 against No. 24 Missouri.
• Vanderbilt now leads the series with Mississippi State 36-22 and 19-5 at Memorial Gymnasium.
• Vanderbilt has out-rebounded 16 of its 20 opponents this season.
• Attendance on Thursday was announced as 2,157.