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By DANNY P. SMITH
Special to Daily Times Leader
Jerica James was making basketball plays all over the court when the Mississippi State Bulldogs needed them the most against Southern Mississippi Monday night.
She started it on defense with a key block of Gillom Trophy winner Jamierra Faulkner of the Golden Eagles with 24 seconds remaining in the first overtime and the Bulldogs holding a slim 65-64 advantage.
In the second overtime, James hit a big 3-point field goal to increase a two-point lead by MSU to 70-65.
The Bulldogs ended up taking a 73-66 victory over the Golden Eagles in a highly-competitive second round game of the Women's National Basketball Tournament at Humphrey Coliseum.
"God is good," a relieved James said after the game.
MSU improved to 21-13 and moves on to host a familiar foe on Thursday night when the Auburn Tigers come to Starkville.
The Bulldogs get the reward of a third-consecutive game in postseason play by outscoring Southern Miss 9-1 in the second overtime.
"What was this No. 5?" MSU women's coach Vic Schaefer asked about the number of overtimes his team has played this season. "We've been down this road before. We found a way. It was a great win for us. Hats off to Southern Miss.
"We played in front of another great crowd and it was a great environment. I love our fans and they got us through. We didn't play well in the first half and I'm not sure we deserved to win at times, but we played well enough down stretch to win."
Schaefer said his team "set the game back 20 years" in the first half after only getting 23 points in the opening half and trailed 27-23 at halftime.
The Bulldogs went on a 7-0 run to open the second half and turned the deficit into a 33-27 lead following a putback by Ketara Chapel.
The two teams went back and forth for the remainder of the second half.
After Dominique Dillingham hit a pair of free throws to put MSU up 55-52 with 1:47 left in regulation, Tamara Jones tied the game with a 3-pointer at the 1:23 mark.
James missed a shot at the end of regulation that would have given the Bulldogs the win, but she came back later to provided the cushion they were looking to get.
After the two teams battled through the first overtime scoring 10 points each, James helped MSU take control in the second 5-minute frame.
She hit the 3-pointer with 2:17 left in double overtime to put the Bulldogs up 70-65.
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