UTC women's season ends with 60-50 loss in NCAA tournament

Mississippi State center Teaira McCowan (15) attempts a hook shot over UTC players during the first half in a first-round women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 18, 2016, in Starkville, Miss.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Victoria Vivians scored 19 points, Chinwe Okorie added 12 and fifth-seeded Mississippi State beat No. 12 Chattanooga 60-50 on Friday in the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament.

Mississippi State (27-7) pushed ahead thanks to an 18-5 run in the second quarter and never trailed during the second half.

The 6-foot-1 Vivians did most of her damage in the second half, scoring 13 points after the break.

photo Mississippi State guard Jazzmun Holmes (10) pulls up as Chattanooga guard Alicia Payne (1) defends during the first half in a first-round women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 18, 2016, in Starkville, Miss.

Chattanooga (24-8) was led by Jasmine Joyner's 17 points. The junior topped her season average of about 13 points per game despite playing just three minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. She shot 7 of 10 from the field.

The Mocs pulled within 49-46 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs scored the next seven points to put the game out of reach.

Chattanooga controlled the game in the first quarter, jumping out to a 16-11 lead.

But the Mocs were hurt when Joyner - who is the nation's leading shot blocker and the team's leading scorer - got into quick foul trouble and had to go to the bench. Without Joyner on the court, Mississippi State had much more room to operate in the paint and pulled ahead for a 29-21 halftime advantage.

The Bulldogs received an unexpected lift in the first half from little-used forward LaKaris Salter, who scored five points, grabbed two rebounds and had an assist in five productive minutes. Salter hadn't even played in five of the previous six games.

Chattanooga threatened to take the lead multiple times in the second half, but could never quite push ahead. Keiana Gilbert and Aryanna Gilbert both scored 10 points to help Joyner.

But every time the Mocs would make a run, Mississippi State responded. Vivians hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the third quarter that helped keep the Bulldogs ahead.

Mississippi State's 27 wins this season are tied for the most in program history.