"Florida has been playing well down the stretch," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "There is no excuse for the rebounding (Florida held a 51-29 advantage). We had plenty of opportunities. You have to rebound the basketball. You have to play hard for 40 minutes or you are not coming to come out on top.
"Florida is playing for the NCAA tournament. We are playing for postseason, too. You have to be able to punch. You have to play harder to be competitive on this level."
The Lady Bulldogs were playing their first game since Fanning-Otis announced her retirement Monday after 17 seasons at the school. Fanning-Otis has led MSU to 11 postseason appearances, including six trips to the NCAA tournament.
On this night, Florida proved way too much to handle. Florida scored the game's first 11 points and never trailed in the contest. The Lady Bulldogs went close to five minutes before finally scoring.
After a 3-point basket by MSU's Kendra Grant finally broke the ice, the Gators quickly moved the lead to double digits. MSU could not get back inside 10 the remainder of the way. Florida used a 6-0 run to build a 16-point lead and later held a 33-18 advantage at halftime.
In the opening half, the Lady Bulldogs hit 26.7 percent of their shots from the field and could not manage to get to the free throw line.
"You have to remember what the jersey represents," Fanning-Otis said. "It has been an emotional week for all of us when the game is played you have to find a way to compete. You have to show up and play the way Mississippi State plays. If we do that, then we can play with anybody."
The Gators scored the first five points of the second half to build a 20-point advantage. The UF lead ran past 30 points in the closing minutes, while a 9-0 run allowed the Gators to go up by 36 points in the final minute.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 17 of 55 shots from the field (30.9 percent), 3 of 16 shots from 3-point range (18.8 percent) and 8 of 12 shots from the foul line (66.7 percent). The Gators hit 29 of 67 shots from the field (43.3 percent), 9 of 28 shots from 3-point range (32.1 percent) and 12 of 14 shots from the foul line (85.7 percent).
MSU had nine assists and 21 turnovers, while UF had 23 assists and 17 turnovers.
Porsha Porter led the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points.
Florida received 18 points from Jordan Jones, 13 points from Azania Stewart and 12 points from Jennifer George.
The Lady Bulldogs close their regular season at home Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. start against No. 13 Kentucky. The MSU senior class will be recognized pregame while Coach Fanning-Otis will be honored postgame. ESPNU will have the national telecast as part of its "Campus Connection" series from the Humphrey Coliseum.