Lady Bulldogs Fall Short Against AIA, 69-56

STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State University women's basketball team closed out its exhibition slate on Friday night, falling to Athletes in Action, 69-56. With continuous substitutions, State rallied in the second half, coming from as many as 20 down to trail by one with more than 11 minutes to play.

"Defensively, I was proud in the second half. We closed a 20-point gap to two points," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "Offensively we have got to do a better job getting the ball to the rim. We are getting beat down the floor and we didn't guard shooters well. Tonight the progress I saw was us fighting back."

The Lady Bulldogs opened the game with baskets from senior forward Mamie McKinney and sophomore guard Miayorka Johnson to go up 4-0. Athletes in Action rallied back to jump out to a 10-point lead at 15-5 with 14 minutes remaining. State used a lay up and free throws from freshman forward Lauren Roberts to trim the AA lead to seven with 11:58 to play. However, it was not enough as Athletes in Action extended the margin to 18 at 7:21 and held the advantage with 4:34 on the clock. AA's largest lead of the half was 44-22 with 1:11 left to play. The Lady Bulldogs went into the intermission trailing 44-24.

State gained momentum in the opening minutes of the second period. Behind key baskets from Johnson, senior guard/forward Blessing Chekwa, freshman guard Marneshia Richard, freshman guard/forward Robin Porter and junior forward/center Natasha Henderson, the Lady Bulldogs rallied to cut the AA lead to two with 12:31 to play. The swing played in favor of MSU as rebounds and free throws from McKinney and Roberts pulled MState to within one at the 11:07 mark. However, it was not enough as Athletes in Action pulled away gradually throughout the remaining 11 minutes. AA's largest lead of the half was 15 points with 45 seconds to play, and they won by a final 69-56.

Despite tallying a 22-15 rebounding deficit in the opening period, the Lady Bulldogs bounced back to out-rebound AA 28-17 in the second half. MSU offensively out-rebounded Athletes in Action 13-8.

Erin Scholz led Athletes in Action with 11 points, while Kellie Carwell and Kristi Channing added 10 apiece.

Porter and Roberts paced MSU with 11 points each, and Johnson and Chekwa contributed 10 each.

Mississippi State opens the 2005-06 regular season at home on Friday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. against Southeastern Louisiana.

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