THOMAS AND TAN LEAD MSU PAST TENN. TECH

STARKVILLE, MISS. -­­ Junior forward LaToya Thomas and freshman guard Tan White both reached double-digit status before the halftime break. Thomas finished with 39, while White poured in 24 to lead the Lady Bulldogs in a 97-85 win over the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at Humphrey Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

In a back and fourth first half of play, Mississippi State's biggest lead was seven, while the visitors led by as many as five due in part to their hot shooting from the three-point line. Tech shot 57 percent in the first half from behind the arc, but MSU led 39-36 at the break.

The Lady Bulldogs took command in the second half of play behind senior forward Jennifer Fambrough who scored 14 of her 16 points in the final 20 minutes of play. Fambrough also had nine rebounds on the day. The Maroon and White pushed its lead to as many as 14 before finishing with a 12-point win.

"I was impressed with Tan White's ability to take the ball to the rim," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "She is improving each game and focusing more."

Thomas's 39-point outing was the 10th game of her career to score 30+ points. The Greenville, Miss., native has scored 20 or more points in 13 of her last 14 games. White recorded her first collegiate double-double and missed a triple-double by just two assists. The Tupelo, Miss., native scored 24 points, grabbed 14 boards and dished out eight assists.

"The offense opened up due to LaToya Thomas's physical presence on the inside. That sparked the rest of the team offensively," added Fanning.

Freshmen Rebecca Kates and Ebonie Ferguson combined for eight points and eight rebounds off the bench, while junior starter Keisha Stringfellow chipped in six points.

The Lady Bulldogs hit the road this week when they travel to Ames, Iowa for the Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament. State will tip off against the Terrapins of Maryland in the opening game on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. MSU could face either host Iowa State or Depaul in the next round.

POST-GAME QUOTES

COACH SHARON FANNING:

Comments about the game:
Sharon Fanning: "We are pleased with the win. It was a huge win over a very good basketball team. Tennessee Tech probably executes and plays as well together as any basketball team we will face this year. They have four seniors, two of whom are fifth-year seniors. They have been playing AAU ball together for a long time. Some of them played high school ball together. They know how to make the extra pass. Offensively, anybody who can make 13 of 27 threes, you know they have confidence in their shooting. They are a very good basketball team."

Tan White really seems to rebound well.
Sharon Fanning: "Tan has an eye for the ball. She has an instinct for the boards. She had 14 (rebounds) today, 6 offensive and 8 defensive. That is just a gift, just like her game is a gift. She is a special kid who is a special gift for the game. It is just going to continue to improve."

You had a nice crowd today.
Sharon Fanning: "It was a vocal crowd. They really got into it on a couple of calls, which was good. We really appreciate that support. I hope we can continue to grow with our crowd because we really need to get some numbers in here if we are going to recruit the way we want to recruit. Our next ball game in here is Memphis and we really need a big crowd in here for that game."

Talk about your depth.
Sharon Fanning: "We could play 11 to 12 players a game. Outside of Tan, Jen and Toya, there are nine other players who are competing for playing time."

JENNIFER FAMBROUGH:

You scored 14 of your 16 points in the second half. That was big. Talk about that.
Jennifer Fambrough: "I was trying to get my game going again because I was down in the first half. I came out and tried to take my open shots when they backed off of me."

You are a senior this year and have seen the great times and the bad time last year. How does this team compare to other MSU teams while you have been here?
Jennifer Fambrough: "I think if we keep our heads on straight, remain focused and play together, this could be the best team that we have ever had here."

Coach Fanning has talked about the depth of this team being one of its strengths.
Jennifer Fambrough: "Yes, I feel like when any player goes to the bench, we have another good player to take her place. That allows us to continue to run up and down the court."

How important is it to you and LaToya to have a guard that is as good as Tan White is?
Jennifer Fambrough: "It is a good counter-attack for us. She can shoot the three and also drive to the basket. That allows us to not be double and triple-teamed as much."

LATOYA THOMAS:

Talk about this team. It really seems to have a lot of quality depth.
LaToya Thomas: "We have a pretty good team. We have Tan White coming in. Everybody knows she was one of the greatest players in Mississippi. She will come in and have an impact on the program. We have a lot of depth. We have a lot of players coming off the bench this year. Also, Ebonie Ferguson coming off the bench as point guard will help a lot. Rebecca Kates has come up big off the post. Courtney Graham coming off the bench will help."

Tennessee Tech defeated a decent Ole Miss team in Oxford just a few days ago. They are a pretty good team. After the first half, MSU handled them pretty good and wound up defeating them by 12. Talk about that.
LaToya Thomas: "After the first half, we went into the locker room and talked it over. We got into each other about doing this and doing that. We came through in the second half."

TAN WHITE:

You seem to be so comfortable on the court. Talk about that.
Tan White: "Yes, I do. I'm just ready to play the game. We got the two exhibition games out of the way and that got me ready for the season to start. I feel comfortable when I'm out there on the court."

You have LaToya Thomas on the inside. How much does that help your game on the outside to have such a great player on the inside?
Tan White: "It helps because it's not all on me. They are looking at both of us and trying to stop both of us."

I've seen you in high school and tell people that you are the LaToya Thomas of guards. Does it bother you to be compared to a player of her caliber?
Tan White: "It is two different rolls, really. She is down in the post and I'm on the perimeter. I enjoy hearing that, though, because she is a great player."

What is the difference in high school and college?
Tan White: "The speed of the game is totally different. There is a lot more execution and transition. That is what I like. I feel that I fit right in."

How good do you feel this team can be?
Tan White: "Two years ago (MSU) was very good. They just needed guards and now that those positions are filled I feel that they can be good again."

You could have gone anywhere in the country coming out of high school. Why did you choose Mississippi State?
Tan White: "I wanted to go somewhere where help was needed. And it was close to home and my family could come and watch me play."


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