Mississippi State Rattles Florida A&M

After a tight win over Florida Atlantic and a weeklong break for exams, the Lady Bulldogs were back in action Sunday afternoon at the Hump, and came away with a 67-57 victory over the Florida A&M Rattlers.

MSU head coach Vic Schaefer's team opened with a 5-0 run thanks to several turnovers by Florida A&M.

But both teams struggled in the turnover department for the first five minutes of regulation, with each team turning the ball over three times.

Following a rotation in the lineup and good post play from freshman Sherise Williams, Mississippi State put together four consecutive scoring opportunities. A three from Jerica James put the Lady Bulldogs ahead by four, 16-12.

Katia May showed Starkville her dribbling skills as she wove through the Rattlers' defense and went in for the layup with eight minutes left in the half. Her shot kept the Bulldogs ahead by three.

Their lead was short lived as a three point shot from Florida A&M tied the game at 22.

The Rattlers gained the lead, marching down the court on the next possession and creating another three point play.

The Lady Bulldogs were quick to respond, though. Sherise Williams continued her post play domination, helping her team move ahead by six with two minutes left in the half.

Williams' consistency on offense led her to a fifteen point first half and helped her team carry a 32-30 lead into the locker room at the half.

Coach Schaefer stuck to the post game in the second half with forwards Martha Alwal and Sherise Williams both opening the half with two scores each down low.

But the Rattlers rallied and led the Lady Bulldogs at the midway point in the second half, 47-46.

Lady Bulldogs senior Darriel Gaynor settled the team down with five points off of a three point play and free throws with approximately eight minutes remaining.

Meanwhile, on the defensive end of the court, the Lady Bulldogs focused their defensive gameplan on what has kept them in previous ballgames, a security blanket of lockdown defense in the clutch.

The Lady Bulldogs were able to close out the game with the help of a few critical scores and free throws from Kendra Grant and Darriel Gaynor, earning a 67-57 victory.

Lady Bulldog Sherise Williams scored a career high 21 points.

The Lady Bulldogs shot 25-53 (47.2%) for the game. Mississippi State dominated the free throw line, making 16-18 (88.9%).

Coach Vic Schaefer applauded the hard effort from the Rattlers.

"You've got to commend Florida A&M," said Schaefer. "They certainly weren't intimidated. They played hard the whole game."

Additionally, he praised his team on their relentless post play throughout the season.

"High-low off the secondary shift is the thing we do best," Schaefer said.

However, he felt that Mississippi State still has work to do defensively.

"Our inability to keep the ball out of the middle of the floor is a problem," said Schaefer. "We did a good job against Florida Atlantic, but tonight we let them get open in the middle and that hurt us."

Mississippi State, now 5-5 for the season, continues their homestand against Jacksonville State, Thursday, December 20th.

Carew Ferguson is a feature writer for the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing carewferguson@att.net.

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