Lady Bulldogs Roll Over Ole Miss

OXFORD, Miss. - Hot shooting early lifted the Mississippi State women's basketball team to a 59-43 victory over in-state rival Ole Miss in a Southeastern Conference game played Thursday night at UM's Tad Smith Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs hit six of their first eight shots from the field and never trailed in the contest. MSU has now won eight of the last 13 series meetings, including four of six in this arena. MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis is now 18-15 against her chief rival.

With the victory, MSU improved to 10-13 overall and 2-9 in league play, while Ole Miss fell to 10-13 and 3-8. The Lady Bulldogs also made it back-to-back road wins in league play, as Thursday's victory followed a thrilling 57-45 win over Auburn Sunday on the Plains.

"To get these last two wins and progress as a team is huge," Fanning-Otis said. "Not real excited about the lull there late in the first half. However, our overall effort was very good. Our rebounding was really good tonight. We also did a good job of taking care of the basketball."

The teams traded baskets in the first 38 seconds of activity. MSU followed with a 13-0 run, including three straight makes from 3-point land. Mary Kathryn Govero, Porsha Porter and Govero hit the treys.

Still leading 17-4, the Lady Bulldogs hit an offensive lull while the Lady Rebels found a rhythm, much to the delight of a crowd of 574 on "Pack the Pad" night. Ole Miss ripped off an 11-0 run. A layup by LaTosha Laws brought UM within 17-15. Govero answered with a jumper on the other end, stopping an MSU scoring draught 7:21 in length.

Govero's basket started a 9-0 run by the Maroon and White. Porter had a steal and fast-break layup, prior to a Danielle Rector 3-pointer to highlight that run. A pair of free throws by Govero extended the Maroon and White advantage to 26-15 with 3:23 left before halftime.

Porter hit her second 3-point basket of the half to close out the scoring in the first 20 minutes. That trey placed MSU on top 32-22 at the break.

Despite the scoring lull, the Lady Bulldogs still hit 42.9 percent of their shots in the opening half. MSU hit 6 of 10 3-point baskets in the opening half and only had six turnovers in the first 20 minutes of play.

"The girls are beginning to understand the work ethic that it takes to win on this level," Fanning-Otis said. "Several players stepped up. Whether it was a defensive stop or a big rebound…we made the plays. The more patience you have; the better offensive shots you get."

The Lady Bulldogs maintained the double-digit advantage at 36-25. Ole Miss then responded with a 6-0 run to climb back within five. Despite only netting nine points over the first eight minutes of the final half, the Lady Bulldogs still held a 41-33 lead.

A basket by Courtney Marbra brought Ole Miss within 41-37 with 10:00 left. Govero answered on the other end with a fade-away jumper. The Lady Bulldogs would enjoy an 8-2 run with back-to-back 3's from Govero and Diamber Johnson running the lead out to 49-39 with 5:25 left to play.

On the next two possessions, Johnson and Govero ran the string to four straight 3-point baskets. A basket by Johnson capped a 16-4 run and made the lead the game's largest at 57-41 with a minute remaining.

Defensively, MSU held Ole Miss to two field goals over the final 10:08 of the contest.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 22 of 53 shots from the field (41.5 percent), 10 of 20 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 5 of 8 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent). The Lady Rebels hit 18 of 56 shots from the field (32.1 percent), 2 of 19 shots from 3-point range (10.5 percent) and 5 of 5 shots from the foul line (100.0 percent).

MSU held a 40-30 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had nine assists and 13 turnovers, while the Lady Rebels had nine assists and 10 turnovers.

Govero paced the Maroon and White with 20 points, including a 4 of 5 night from 3-point range. Porter added 16 points – her fifth straight game of 13+ plus points. Johnson finished with 15 points. Ashley Brown and Govero each had a team-high eight rebounds.

Freshman point guard Valencia McFarland paced Ole Miss with 16 points.

The Lady Bulldogs host South Carolina Sunday. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. from the Humphrey Coliseum. That contest will be televised regionally by the SEC Network.

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