Lady Bulldogs Fall to Houston Jaguars

STARKVILLE, Miss. - In their first exhibition game of the 2005-06 season, the Mississippi State women's basketball team lost its momentum in the second half to fall to the Houston Jaguars, 92-79. After posting a close 44-48 first half score, MSU was out-scored second half by nine in the loss.

Lady Bulldog head coach Sharon Fanning was disappointed with the loss but pleased with leadership from her seniors and the play from several key newcomers.

"It was just a poor display," said Fanning. "Blessing was out there working hard around the rim. Shorty, Mamie and Natasha were all moving in and out of rotation. Robin started off very strong and played well for someone that really hasn't practiced much this week."

State kept the score even the first half, bringing the score to a tie nine times. Despite out-rebounding Houston in the first stanza 29-19, the Jaguars pulled ahead by four with just under a minute to play. Freshman guard/forward Robin Porter tallied double digits in the first half to lead the Lady Bulldogs with 10 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

Houston came out of the lockerroom on fire after halftime, extending its lead to as many as 10 at the 16:52 mark. MSU would go on several back-to-back four-minute scoring droughts but was never able to regain a lead. The Jaguars would pull ahead by as much as 20 at 3:13 to eventually take the 92-79 win, the first of their season.

Porter tallied her first collegiate double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Fellow freshman guard Heather Hollis also scored in double digits with 12 points while senior guard/forward Blessing Chekwa handed in 13 points and nine rebounds of her own.

With the absence of Doceide Warren junior transfer Sarah Johnson received the starting nod at point guard seeing 31 minutes of action and tallied nine points in her first game for the Lady Bulldogs. Warren did not play this game due to tightness in her right hip and hamstring as well as sprains in her right shoulder and elbow.

Former Lady Bulldog LaToya Thomas led all scorers with 24 points while playing for the Houston Jaguars. The WNBA all-star went 11-for-19 in 34 minutes.

"It's not a win or lose thing when I come back to play them," said Thomas. "I get to see all of the girls that I have not seen in a while. They have a lot of freshmen that need to get some experience. They need to play hard, smart and together. That is Coach Fanning's motto."

MSU will play its final exhibition game on Friday, Nov. 11 vs. Athletes in Action at 7 p.m. in Humphrey Coliseum.

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