DULUTH, Ga. - Senior Meghan Perkins and sophomore Daisha Simmons combined for 30 points to lead the women's basketball team to a 63-36 victory over Mississippi State in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Thursday at The Arena at Gwinnett Center. The win, which moves the Crimson Tide to 13-17 on the season, marks the team's first in the tournament since 2005.
"The players did a great job of doing what we asked them to do," said Alabama head coach Wendell Hudson. "They were not ready to go home. We really played hard as a team, played together and rebounded the ball well against a much taller team."
The Tide shot 34.4 percent from the field while holding the Bulldogs to 22.6 percent for the game. Mississippi State's 36 points ties for the fewest points scored in tournament history. Alabama also out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 48-42, outscored them 30-12 in the paint and had 13 steals compared to Mississippi State's three.
Alabama and Mississippi State went back and forth over the first four minutes of the game before the Tide scored seven unanswered points to jump in front, 13-6, at the 13:14 mark. The Bulldogs would pull within one with just over six minutes to go but would come no closer as Alabama closed out the half on a 6-1 run to lead 23-17 at the break.
The Tide carried its momentum over to the second half where it used an 11-5 run to lead by 12, 34-22, with 15:14 to play. Alabama continued to distance itself from Mississippi State, leading by as many as 29 in the game after holding the Bulldogs scoreless for a four-minute span.
Perkins finished as the game's leading scorer with 17 points while Simmons recorded the game's lone double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Jasmine Robinson also had a big game for the Tide, contributing 10 rebounds, nine points and five steals.
"As a senior, this is what I live for," said Perkins. "I am very proud of our team. This was big for us."
Alabama will now face the tournament's No. 5 seed South Carolina on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CT.