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Ohio State clips Mississippi with 12-0 game-closing run

OXFORD, Miss. -- For Ohio State coach Jim Foster, Sunday's 79-77 win over Mississippi was all about hustle.

It was a little like someone flipped a switch with 3 minutes left as the ninth-ranked Buckeyes came alive and wiped out a 10-point deficit by scoring the final 12 points of the game.

"When they would have two hands on the ball and we would have two hands on the ball, early they would get the ball," Foster said. "And then late we got the ball. I don't think it's anything more than that."

Bianca Thomas' layup off Kayla Nelson's steal and assist gave the Rebels their largest lead of the game, 77-67 with 2:56 left. That capped a 14-4 run and a nearly 13-minute stretch when Ole Miss outscored Ohio State 35-19 with six 3-pointers and a three-point play.

From there, though, the Rebels (6-3) missed four field goals, three free throws and turned the ball over twice.

Andrea Walker hit the first basket of the 12-point run, then made two free throws to put the Buckeyes (9-1) up 78-77 with 40 seconds to play. Samantha Prahalis hit one of two with 4.7 seconds left and Elizabeth Robertson's 3-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

The Buckeyes did most of their rallying without star player Jantel Lavender on the court. The Rebels held her eight points below her average with 15 and forced her into 10 turnovers.

Turned out there was little need for her in the waning moments. Her teammates stepped in with authority.

"I think this is great for our team to go through some adversity and come out with the win," said Prahalis, a point guard who led the Buckeyes with 17 points and six assists. "We believe now that we could win even when someone's down."

Walker admitted to a few butterflies as she stepped to the line, but she's been in this situation before. She hit two game-winning free throws as a freshman and now that she's a senior, she was the perfect candidate for late-game heroics.

"That woman was at home," Foster said. "Seniors have the experience. Seniors have been places young kids haven't."

One of those places is far behind with just a few minutes left. Walker said the Buckeyes never panicked, even 10 points down.

"I think the mentality changed," Walker said. "The clock was running down. There's a point in the game where you need to get stops and start scoring."

The Rebels led 36-35 at halftime as Thomas scored 18 of her game-high 25 points. The Buckeyes rallied with a 13-4 run to start the second half, taking their biggest lead of the game at 48-42. But Ole Miss answered with a 17-4 spurt that included five 3-pointers in a 3:01 span, then seemed to put the hammer down with that 14-4 run to take the double-digit lead.

From there, though, things were disastrous. The late swoon continues a trend for the Rebels, who have faded late in their three losses this season.

"If they could learn to play with this kind of effort, I believe we'd be 9-0 and could play with anybody in the country," coach Renee Ladner said.