News from MSU Media Relations--Jan. 20

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Women's Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Women's Tennis and Men's Tennis.


Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's best defensive effort could still not add up to victory as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 45-41 decision to Auburn in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Thursday night in the Humphrey Coliseum.

"In the league games we have been fighting back," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "The next step is putting yourself in a position to win. Winning requires 40 minutes of focus. We have to better blocking out on missed free throws and soring offensive putbacks. We are close, we have to keep working hard and we can win some of these games."

The Lady Bulldogs dropped their sixth straight contest, falling to 8-9 overall and 0- 5 in league play. Meanwhile, Auburn improved to 12-7 and 5-1. Auburn has won four straight games in this arena.

It appeared things might end differently when the Maroon and White grabbed a 37-34 lead with 7:35 remaining on a layup by Ashley Brown. However, the hosts did not score again Catina Bett hit a jumper in the lane with 16 seconds remaining.

Bett missed the follow-up free throw, but Darriel Gaynor scored the offensive putback with three seconds remaining. However, time would expire before the rally could become completed.

The contest was a defensive struggle throughout. Still, MSU could not muster enough offense, including a miserable 1-for-13 night from 3-point range. The Lady Bulldogs also turned the ball over 20 times - a third time in league play for 20 or more turnovers by MSU.

MSU scored the first five points of the game, as Auburn went more than five minutes without scoring. AU then caught fire, scoring six points in less than a minute to take a 6-5 lead.

A 3-point basket by Blanche Alverson ran the advantage to 9-5.

The Lady Bulldogs battled back for a 9-9 tie, before using an 8-0 run to take a 19-14 lead. Back-to-back baskets by Porsha Porter capped that run as the Tigers went more than three minutes without scoring.

Defensively, MSU held Auburn to 20.7 percent shooting in the opening half. That led to a 22-16 halftime advantage for the Maroon and White. MSU had not led a league game at halftime this season.

The Lady Bulldogs still held the six-point push after a putback by Bett with 18:15 left in regulation, ran the advantage to 26-20. Bett, who tallied 11 points in the first half, would not score again until her basket in the final half-minute.

"Catina has not played this many minutes in league games," Fanning-Otis said. "She has to be more aggressive offensively. At the same time, we have to do a better job of getting her the ball. As this team plays together more, we will have to find more offensive consistency to be able to win some of these games."

Auburn continued to trail until an Alli Smalley putback gave the Tigers a 30-29 lead with 12:02 remaining.

Not deterred, an 8-4 run by MSU placed the hosts on top 37-34 with 7:35 left. However, the Lady Bulldogs would miss their next 13 shots from the floor, as Auburn rallied to victory.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 19 of 61 shots from the field (31.1 percent), 1 of 13 shots from 3-point range (7.7 percent) and 2 of 5 shots from the foul line (40.0 percent). The Tigers hit 17 of 51 shots from the field (33.3 percent), 3 of 9 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 8 of 15 shots from the foul line (53.3 percent).

MSU held a 46-35 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had seven assists and 20 turnovers, while the Tigers had 11 assists and 17 turnovers.

Bett paced the Lady Bulldogs with 15 points, while Porter added 10 points with eight rebounds. Each of those players had eight rebounds. Brown matched a career-high with 15 rebounds for MSU.

Auburn received 11 points each from Alverson and Smalley. Jordan Greenleaf had a team-high 10 rebounds.

MSU plays Georgia at 2 p.m. CT Sunday in Athens. That contest will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South.


Baseball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Baseball Bulldogs have picked up a second national television appearance in conjunction with the Southeastern Conference's television contract with ESPN.

The April 22 series opener between Mississippi State and defending national champion South Carolina at Dudy Noble Field is one of 11 SEC matchups added to the league's lineup of games broadcast on the ESPN family of networks in 2011. ESPNU will televise the MSU-USC game, with first pitch moved to 7 p.m. (CT) to accommodate the telecast.

ESPNU's previously announced inaugural Thursday Night SEC Baseball Game of the Week series begins its seven-week run April 7 and includes the series-opening Mississippi State Ole Miss game Thursday, May 12 at Oxford.

SEC Baseball's 2011 broadcast schedule on ESPN features 17 regular-season games and a national telecast of the championship game of the SEC Baseball Tournament May 29 in Hoover, Ala. The SEC's other television partners, FOX Sports Net, SportSouth and Comcast Sports Southeast, who televised a combined 34 SEC baseball games last year as part of the official SEC television package, are expected to release their respective TV lineups in the coming weeks.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Registration forms are still being accepted for Mississippi State softball's winter clinics that will be conducted Jan. 28-30.

Clinic registration forms can be found at www.mstateathletics.com/camps. For more information on the Bulldogs' winter sessions, contact associate head coach Annie Smith (662-325-0572 or asmith@athletics.msstate.edu).


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss - Set to open their spring season on Friday, the MSU Lady Netters will travel to Tulsa, Okla. to face-off against the 32nd ranked Golden Hurricane of the University of Tulsa. Following Friday's match, the Lady Bulldogs will battle the Oklahoma State Cowgirls, ranked 59th, on Saturday.

"I am very excited to get back on the courts against tough competition," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "Our girls had a productive fall and off-season and are ready to get on the court."

Mississippi State returns five players from last season including senior Elizabeth Hall. Also adding their talents to the mix are juniors Mariia Ryzhova, Olesya Tsigvintseva, Jordan Zachary and sophomore Danielle Terpko. Roseline Dion and Vivian Pietraroia are among three freshmen for the Lady Bulldogs this year.

One new face joining the MSU women's tennis team this spring is freshman, Alexandra Perper. Perper, the Chisinau, Moldova-native, had a stellar amateur fall season and is coming off a semifinal run in Antalya Open in Antalya, Turkey. Friday will be Perper's first-career action as a Lady Bulldog as she joined the team starting the first of January.

Tulsa leads the current series 1-0 over MSU but this will be the first ever meeting between the Lady Bulldogs and Oklahoma State.

The matches are slated to begin at 6:00 p.m. CT on Friday and 1:30 p.m. CT on Saturday.

Live stats will be made available at www.mstateathletics.com.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss.- Returning to action following less than a week's break, the Mississippi State men's tennis team will serve up in the Auburn Invitational this weekend.

"We are excited to have the whole team together again," fourth-year coach Per Nilsson said. "At the SEC Indoors we had to split the roster up so this tournament will be good to have everyone playing alongside each other as we prepare for our dual matches."

The Bulldogs return to the courts after a three-day stint this past weekend at the annual SEC Indoor Championships, which was played this year in Knoxville, Tenn. Bulldog Artem Ilyushin led the way for the Maroon and White at the indoor event with a pair of main draw victories and advanced to the semifinals in singles consolation. Ilyushin is tied for the team-lead on the year with five victories in singles along with senior Tanner Stump and newcomer Malte Stropp.

MSU is paced by junior Louis Cant in the national rankings. Cant stands 60th in the country, sports a 2-3 record after the fall season and will be making his first appearance of the spring at the Auburn Invitational. Junior George Coupland is ranked with two different doubles teams; alongside true freshman Zach White they stand 45th nationally and when Coupland and Ilyushin are paired up they rank 53rd.

Joining MSU in the field at the Auburn Invitational will be a pair of SEC-foes, including host-school Auburn and Arkansas and out-of-conference Army.

Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com and results will be made available at the end of the day.


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