Lady Bulldogs Win Over Ole Miss

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State sent its lone senior Mary Kathryn Govero out a winner as the Lady Bulldogs took down in-state rival Ole Miss 65-55 in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Sunday at Humphrey Coliseum.

Govero, a senior from Clinton, tallied 18 points in her final home game for the Maroon and White. Presently the school's 12th all-time leading scorer, Govero enters postseason play with 1,150 points in 88 career starts.

With the victory, the Lady Bulldogs secure the 11 seed in this week's SEC Tournament. MSU will play Auburn at 9 p.m. CT Thursday night in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. All four opening-round games Thursday will be televised by Fox Sports Net South.

MSU finishes the regular season at 12-16 overall and 4-12 in league play, while Ole Miss finishes 10-18 and 3-13.

The Lady Bulldogs have won five of the past six series meetings and sweep the season series for the second time in three years. It is the first time since the 1999-2000 school year that MSU has beaten Ole Miss in all football and basketball games played between the two rivals.

"This was a total team effort today," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "We showed today the consistency that we have been trying to achieve throughout the season. I was pleased at how we made adjustments today. We have really improved throughout the season. Hopefully, we can play some more games and continue to move in the right direction."

Junior Diamber Johnson recorded her first double-double with the Maroon and White. Johnson finished with 16 points and matched a career high with 10 assists.

After a very entertaining first half, the Lady Bulldogs seized complete control of the contest with a 12-3 run midway through the second half. A 3-pointer by Govero placed the Lady Bulldogs on top, 52-43 with 9:34 left in the contest.

"This was a very emotional day," Govero said. "I am thankful for this opportunity. It has been a great run. To be able to go out with a win made it even sweeter. This team has played hard all year and has really grown up. I am proud of them for that."

The Lady Rebels started the contest on fire. Ole Miss hit its first nine shots from the field. A 3-pointer by Valencia McFarland ran the guests out to an 18-10 advantage. A layup by Kayla Melson gave the Lady Rebels a 23-16 lead with 11:59 left before halftime.

The Lady Bulldogs righted the ship with a 15-2 run. A steal by Govero set up Danielle Rector for a 3-point field goal. A possession later, a Darriel Gaynor trey ran the MSU lead to 29-25 with 6:26 left before halftime.

Defensively, MSU held Ole Miss to two field goals over the final 9:31 of the half. The Lady Rebels did shoot 60 percent in the opening half. Despite that success, MSU only held a 31-30 lead at halftime.

"Our assist-to-turnover ratio was outstanding tonight," Fanning-Otis said. "We didn't get to the free throw line enough, but we did make everyone that we took. When we have more consistency, we will get more wins. We toughened up defensively in the second half."

Ole Miss grabbed a 40-37 lead on a pair of Kayla Melson free throws with 14:56 left in the contest. The Lady Bulldogs scored the game's next eight points. A 3-pointer by Johnson staked the Lady Bulldogs to a 45-40 advantage.

The 12-3 run ended on Govero's fourth and final 3-point basket. That shot placed the Maroon and White firmly in control, at 52-43 with 9:34 left.

Slightly more than three minutes later, the Lady Bulldogs grabbed their longest lead when Johnson rammed home a 3-point basket. That shot lifted MSU to a 59-49 lead with 6:17 left.

Ole Miss got no closer than eight the remainder of the way.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 23 of 58 shots from the field (39.7 percent), 11 of 28 shots from 3-point range (39.3 percent) and 8 of 8 shots from the foul line (100.0 percent). The Lady Rebels hit 20 of 46 shots from the field (43.5 percent), 6 of 18 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 9 of 16 shots from the foul line (56.3 percent).

MSU held a 35-30 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 18 assists and 10 turnovers, while the Lady Rebels had eight assists and 13 turnovers.

Ashley Brown had a team-high 10 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.

Ole Miss received 15 points apiece from McFarland and Melson.

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