LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Makayla Epps capped a career night with a putback basket as time expired in the second overtime to give No. 10 Kentucky a wild 92-90 victory over No. 13 Mississippi State on Thursday night.
Epps scored 42 points but saved her biggest basket for last as she grabbed her own miss and put in a soft shot for the winner that sparked a big celebration for the Wildcats (19-5, 8-3 Southeastern Conference).
The sophomore guard’s scoring total was second in program history behind Jennifer O’Neill’s 43 points against Baylor in a four-overtime victory last season. Epps made 18 of 30 from the field including two 3-pointers that helped the Wildcats win their third in a row.
Epps also won a scoring duel with the Bulldogs’ Victoria Vivians, whose career-high 39 points with five 3s gave Mississippi State (23-4, 9-4) chances to win. Martha Alwal added 21 points and eight rebounds and Dominique Dillingham had 12 rebounds.
Epps scored 15 points in the extra 10 minutes including eight in the final session. Bria Goss added 16 points and O’Neill nine for the Wildcats, who seemed to have things under control leading 65-53 with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation before the Bulldogs rallied to force OT and nearly end their five-year drought against Kentucky.
Vivians scored the go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the first OT during a strange sequence that also resulted in two free throws for Morgan William, who fed her for the shot. William made one for an 83-81 lead before Epps’ jumper with 11 seconds left gave Kentucky another lifeline.
Epps’ performance began with 17 first-half points for a 48-36 halftime lead, and things appeared safe for Kentucky for much of the second half before it went cold from the field. Mississippi State shook off its own struggles behind Vivians and Alwal, whose 10 combined points during a 16-3 run provided a 69-68 lead late in regulation.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs outrebounded Kentucky 57-46. … Coach Vic Schaefer received a technical foul in the first half after William was called for fouling Epps on a made jumper.
Kentucky: The Wildcats scored 33 points off 27 turnovers. … Earlier in the day the program announced that ESPN has flexed its March 1 season finale against current No. 1 South Carolina from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. It will be shown on ESPN2.
Mississippi State: Hosts Florida on Sunday.
Kentucky: Visits No. 6 Tennessee on Sunday.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.