"This was a huge win, but we can't let up after a win like this," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning. "Every game from here on out is important, and we will just have to see how this stretch will play out."
In a first half that featured nine lead changes and eight ties, the Lady Bulldogs took a five point lead into the locker room at 41-36, the largest of the half. Both teams shot well from the field. State shot 47 percent, while the Gators were 15-of-36 in the shooting column. Even though the Blue and Orange had the height advantage, the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold their own in the first 20 minutes. Both teams had 20 points apiece in the paint. State was led by Tiania Burns and Tan White in the opening half. Burns scored MSU's first eight points. White was 3-of 6 from behind the three-point line. With her three treys, she ties former MSU standout Cynthia Hall (1997-01) for three-point field goals made with 147.
UF trimmed the MSU lead down to one at 41-40 with a minute deep into the second half. State then went on a 17-7 scoring spurt to build its lead out to 11 points at the 13:11 mark of the final half. After that scoring run, the Gators were only to get as close as eight points. The Maroon and White's largest margin of the game was 14 points on two occasions late in the game.
State finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field, while holding the Gators to just 40 percent. MSU forced 17 UF turnovers, scoring 20 points off those miscues. MSU shot over 70 percent from the free throw line for the 12th time this season.
State put four starters in double figures, led by White's 22 points and eight rebounds. The junior from Tupelo, Miss. also had three steals and three assists. Burns finished with 21 points and three assists. Florida-native, Mamie McKinney recorded a career- high 16 points and added four steals. Rebecca Kates posted a season-high 15 points, going 4-of-8 from three-point land. Seneca Anderson added seven points in the win.
"We had a lot of balance in our scoring tonight, and we finished with a positive assist to turnover ratio," said Fanning. "We were focused and we played very, very, well."
Florida was led by Vanessa Hayden with 23 points and eight rebounds. Tashia Morehead posted a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. Danielle Santos added 11 of her own.
The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Lexington, Ky. for a rematch against the Wildcats at 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT). MSU won the first meeting this year in Starkville, 80-67.