Lady Bulldogs Fall to No. 24 Arkansas

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's spirited second-half rally fell short as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 61-56 decision to No. 25 Arkansas Sunday afternoon in the Humphrey Coliseum.

As snow showers fell outside the arena, the Lady Bulldogs had a tough time getting anything to fall inside for the first 20 minutes. Down 30-17 at halftime, the Lady Bulldogs actually trailed by as many as 17 before mounting one final charge.

"It is all about playing hard for 40 minutes," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "You can't decide at halftime, that you want to play hard in the second half. Arkansas is athletic and quick. You have to respond to that challenge for the entire game."

Arkansas improved to 14-1 overall and 2-1 in league play, while MSU slipped to 8-6 and 0-2.

Still, the Lady Bulldogs had their chances. Down 49-32 with 9:22 left in regulation, the Lady Bulldogs reeled off eight straight points. A tip-in by Diamber Johnson brought the Maroon and White within 49-40 with 5:36 left.

The Lady ‘Backs bumped back out to the nine-point advantage two different times over the next couple of moments. Once came after a pair of free throws by Jamesha Townsend and the other was after UA broke the press for a fast-break layup from Sarah Watkins.

The basket by Watkins ran the lead to 57-48 with 1:53 remaining.

From there, the hosts got an old-fashioned 3-point play from Porsha Porter. After a defensive stop, Johnson rammed home a 3-point basket, cutting the deficit to 57-54 with 1:00 left.

The Lady ‘Backs hit six of seven free throws in the closing minutes to close out the victory.

"Every team in the league has quickness," Fanning-Otis said. "We had already been through one experience this past week (a road loss at Vanderbilt). We have to learn how to penetrate better and get better shots. We have to be physical for 40 minutes. We have to do a better job of forcing the tempo."

The Lady Bulldogs scored the game's first four points. Arkansas went more than four minutes before finally breaking the ice. The Lady ‘Backs then reeled off 10 straight points to take a 10-4 advantage.

A 20 percent shooting first half by the Maroon and White allowed the guests to take full control of the basketball game. UA opened a 16-7 lead with 9:30 remaining, as the hosts went more than half of the first half with only two field goals.

Arkansas scored the final nine points of the opening stanza to take the 13-point lead at the break.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 22 of 67 shots from the field (32.8 percent), 4 of 19 shots from 3-point range (21.1 percent), 8 of 12 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Lady ‘Backs hit 21 of 56 shots from the field (37.5 percent), 3 of 12 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent), 16 of 24 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent).

MSU held a 45-41 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had eight assists and 18 turnovers, while the Lady ‘Backs had 11 assists and 19 turnovers.

Katia May led MSU with 12 points, while Johnson added 10 points. Catina Bett had a game-high 10 rebounds, including eight on the defensive end. Ashley Brown, MSU's leading rebounded on the season, only logged 19 minutes before fouling out with 3:17 left.

Arkansas received 21 points from Watkins.

The Lady ‘Backs also had 13 points from Lyndsay Harris and 10 points from C'eira Ricketts.

The Lady Bulldogs host LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday. That contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South.

Gene's Page Top Stories