Lady Bulldogs fall short

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State's valiant comeback effort against fifth-ranked Tennessee fell short 61-53 Sunday afternoon in front of 2,813 at Humphery Coliseum. State held the Lady Vols to their fewest points in the series history between the two teams.

The Lady Bulldogs held Tennessee to just one field goal in the last 10 minutes of the game. UT had a 19-point (43-24) advantage at the 12:36 mark of the second half. State chipped away that lead the rest of the way. The Lady Bulldogs got as close as four points twice. MSU (5-9, 0-2) trailed 53-49 with just over a minute to play. UT hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win. The Maroon and White outscored UT 26-18 over the final 10 minutes. The 53 points scored by UT was the third lowest output on the year for the Lady Vols.

"We could have come out and tanked the game in the second half, but the girls came back and showed a lot of heart and character," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning. "We're starting to get that look like a Tennessee has that we know we're going to come out and win."

The Lady Vols (12-1, 2-0) went on a 19-8 scoring spurt to close out the first 20 minutes. The game was tied at eight points apiece with 13:27 remaining in the half, before UT went on the run. The Orange and Blue's largest lead was 11 points twice. They took that same margin into the locker room at 27-16.

UT took advantage of 10 MSU first half turnovers, scoring 11 points off of State miscues. Both teams struggled shooting the basketball in the first half. The Lady Vols shot 37 percent from the field, while MSU finished the half with 18 percent shooting. State hit just six baskets in the first 20 minutes.

Tan White finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds for her 13th career double-double. Tiania Burns was the only other Lady Bulldog, posting 13 points. Doceide Warren came off the bench for seven points, while Rebecca Kates and Mamie McKinney both added four of their own.

"We proved in the second half that we can play with any ranked team," said Tan White. "This game showed we can play against any team in the conference. We hope this will carry over in to the rest of the season."

All 10 Lady Vols that played registered points. Leading the way for UT was Shanna Zolman who finished with 17 points off the bench. Brittany Jackson and Shyra Ely both posted seven points. Ely also recorded 10 rebounds. Loree Moore also finished with seven points, while Ashley Robinson added six.

The Lady Bulldogs travel to Oxford, Miss. next Sunday to face off with in-state rival Mississippi. Tip off is set for 2 p.m. in the Tad Smith Coliseum. The game will be televised by Fox Sports South as part of its SEC-TV basketball package.

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