AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn got 17 points from Brandy Montgomery and 13 from Katie Frerking, but No. 5/4 Mississippi State pulled away in the fourth quarter to down the Tigers 77-47 Thursday night at Auburn Arena.
The Tigers (15-8, 5-4 SEC) cut what had been a 21-point first-quarter deficit to as few as six points in the third, but the Bulldogs (22-1, 8-1) used a big run over the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters to gain an insurmountable lead.
"I thought our girls made a great effort when we were down by 21 and cut it to (six) points," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "That's just an uphill battle to come back, and it used a lot of effort and energy to get back in it. But, Mississippi State is a very good team, so it was just a tough night for us."
Montgomery's 17 points tied for the game-high with MSU's Victoria Vivians. Jazmine Jones, Erica Sanders and Emari Jones tied for the Auburn lead in rebounds with four apiece, and Khady Dieng contributed three steals.
MSU jumped out to a big early lead, leading by as many as 21 in the first quarter on the strength of its inside game. But Auburn fought back to cut the halftime deficit to 15 points at 39-24.
A pair of Montgomery 3-pointers sparked an 18-9 run over the first seven-plus minutes of the third quarter to cut the Bulldogs' lead to just six at 48-42. But State ended the third quarter on an 8-0 run, then started the fourth on a 9-0 run before a Montgomery jumper at the 6:52 mark ended a six-minute scoring drought for the Tigers.
MSU outrebounded Auburn 39-22 and held the Tigers to 35.3-percent shooting. The Bulldogs were an even 50 percent from the floor and 9-of-20 (45%) on 3-pointers. Auburn was outscored 28-26 in the paint and 26-22 off turnovers; it was the first time this season for an opponent to score more points off turnovers.
Victoria Vivians led MSU with 17 points while Chinwe Okorie had 16 and Teaira McCowan added 15 off the bench.
Auburn is back in action Sunday at Texas A&M. Game time is 1 p.m. at Reed Arena in College Station.