"I am pleased with the effort and that we came out focused. It was a great win to get the tournament started," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "We felt like defense was going to be a key. They (Manhattan) are an aggressive, scrappy basketball team that stays after it. We need to do a better job of transition on Monday."
The Maroon and White expanded the lead in the final half to as many as 32 points with 7:22 remaining in the game. The Lady Jaspers trimmed that margin down to 20 points at 48-28, but MSU pushed its lead back out to the final margin of 26 points.
LaToya Thomas and Tan White shared scoring honors for the Lady 'Dogs, both pouring in 22 points apiece. Thomas also pulled down 13 rebounds for her 47th career double-double and 11th of the season. White was 5-of-10 from three-point range, tying her seasonhigh for treys.
"I don't think we were nervous," said senior forward LaToya Thomas. "I mean when you come in and see approximately 15,000 people in the stands everybody is going to get bubble gut. We just came out focused. Tan was knocking down the big shots, so we kept on going to Tan and she kept hitting the big shots, so we felt comfortable."
Freshman Doceide Warren, who was making her second career start, scored nine points and grabbed five boards. Senior Renea Jones added five point of her own, while Mamie McKinney and Seneca Anderson both contributed four. Anderson also pulled down eight rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs will play the winner of the New Mexico/Miami game in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 24. The time of the game has not yet been determined. The game will be televised on ESPN2. Fans can also catch the game on the Bulldog Sports Network with Steve Ellis calling the action.