Lady Bulldogs Defeat Lady Devilettes 64-47

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Mississippi State women's basketball team found reasons to be thankful Wednesday afternoon.

Behind freshman Martha Alwal's third double-double of the season and a season-high 18 points from senior Porsha Porter, the Lady Bulldogs ushered in Thanksgiving weekend on campus by putting away a pesky Mississippi Valley State squad 64-47 at the Humphrey Coliseum.

With the victory, MSU improved to 4-1, including a perfect 4-0 at home this season. MVSU dropped to 1-3. The Lady Bulldogs have won 13-straight in the series and have now won 14 of 16 all-time career meetings with the Delta Devilettes.

Alwal had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and she finished two blocks shy of a triple-double. Diamber Johnson joined Alwal and Porter in double figures with 10 points, her 13th-straight game scoring double figures.

"From a points standpoint, I was just in the right place at the right time," Alwal said. "We had some missed shots and I was fortunate enough to be in a position to get some rebounds and put some shots back in.

"Overall, it was not one of my better efforts. I feel like I could have played with more heart, instead of some times going through the motions."

Both teams appeared sluggish throughout play. Still, MSU scored the game's first four points, built an early 14-3 lead and never trailed in the contest.

MVSU hung tough, thanks to brilliant outside shooting. The Delta Devilettes hit seven 3-point baskets in the first half, including four from De'Kisha Fondon. The long-range shooting allowed the guests to close out the half with only a 33-31 deficit.

"We need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "For the first time this year, our shot selection was not at its best. We did a good job of sharing the basketball but it did not end in the type of shots we need to take consistently on the offensive end."

While the Lady Bulldogs strived for better offensive production, the defense took over the contest. After closing within 51-47, MVSU did not score over the final six minutes, seven seconds. State held the Devilettes to 11.4-percent shooting over the game's final 20 minutes.

"In the second half, I was trying to bring more energy to the team," Porter said. "Sometimes, we were struggling to play with intensity. We should not have allowed them to score 47 points. My job was to keep everybody focused and to get everybody playing harder.

"My teammates and coaches told me I was able to get that done."

MSU built an early 7-3 lead on a 3-point play by Alwal. Back-to-back baskets by Catina Bett extended the advantage to 14-3. MVSU then closed within 19-15 with four straight free throws by Brittany Lakes.

MVSU would later cut the deficit to 24-23 before the Maroon and White scored six-straight points. A layup by Porter ran the MSU advantage to 30-23 before MVSU ended the half with an 8-3 run to create the 33-31 halftime spread.

"Our defensive effort was not good in the first half," Fanning-Otis said. "We were losing players and not forcing them to take difficult shots. Our focus and intensity was much better in the second half."

MSU opened the second half with a 9-3 run for a 42-34 lead. The lead would later grow to 10 at 51-41 on two free throws by Ashley Brown with 9:36 left in regulation.

Still, MVSU hung tough. The Delta Devilettes scored the game's next six points to close within 51-47 with 6:07 left. From there, the Lady Bulldogs' defensive pressure intensified and MVSU missed its final 11 shots of the game.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 24 of 70 shots from the field (34.3 percent), 5 of 19 shots from 3-point range (26.3 percent) and 11 of 17 shots from the foul line (64.7 percent). The Delta Devilettes hit 13 of 64 shots from the field (20.3 percent), 8 of 28 shots from 3-point range (28.6 percent) and 13 of 16 shots from the foul line (81.3 percent).

MSU held a 54-46 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 14 assists and 18 turnovers, while the Delta Devilettes had nine assists and 21 turnovers.

MVSU was led by Fondon with 14 points (two in the second half) and Olivia Kennedy with 10 points.

For MSU, Brown added 10 rebounds, while Alwal had eight blocked shots. For the season, the true freshman now has a Southeastern Conference-best 25 blocks.

MSU travels to Savannah State for a 1 p.m. CT start Saturday. The game will be broadcast on WNMQ-FM 103.1.


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