Lady Bulldogs Defeat New Orleans, 79-59

TYLER, Texas - Robin Porter and Mamie McKinney fueled a game-deciding scoring surge early in the second half and Mississippi State got the better end of an offensive shootout to give head coach Sharon Fanning a win on her birthday by routing New Orleans, 79-59, Thursday evening at the Herrington Patriot Center on the campus of UT-Tyler.

Porter knocked down eight of her team-high 13 points in the second half to lead a trio of Lady Bulldogs (3-6) in double figures. Freshmen Heather Hollis scored all 11 of her points in the first stanza, with Miayorka Johnson contributing to the second half outburst for MSU, tallying nine of her 12 points in the frame en route to also recording a career-best five steals. Natasha Henderson was one off her career-best rebounding mark, complementing six points with 10 boards, including six in the first half.

Ashley Sentimore scored 14 points to lead the Lady Privateers (2-5) who were sent tumbling to their fifth-straight loss. UNO's Le'Della English also reached double figures, scoring 13 points to go along with a game-high seven assists.

"I was very pleased with a win on the road and pleased that a lot of players contributed," Fanning said. "I thought we ran the break better than we have all year. There were three things that we focused on - rebounding, free throws and assist to turnover ratio - and I thought all three got better in this win. This is a great way to head back to Starkville and get ready for our tournament. This is the best birthday present a coach could hope for.

Blessing Chekwa scored State's first bucket of the second half to push the visitors' lead back to double digits, but four-straight points by UNO brought the displaced Privateers within six before Porter's jumper with 17:28 left opened up the floodgates for MState. McKinney scored all six of her points in a 19-8 run over the next six minutes and 50 seconds of play that gave her team a double-digit lead it would never relinquish.

New Orleans would pull to within 15 on Smooch Rogers' jumper at the 10:51 mark, but the Lady Bulldogs answered with another double-digit run that gave them a 75-48 cushion with just under four minutes remaining.

"Mississippi State played a very good game against us," said New Orleans head coach Amy Champion. "They played a tough non conference schedule leading up to this game tonight and, when you're 2-6, it makes you get a little bit hungrier for a win. They were a bit hungrier than us tonight and it showed in the second half. They definitely used that to expose some weaknesses in our game."

Mississippi State scored the game's first 11 points to attain a double-digit lead just 4:29 into the contest, but UNO slowly chipped away at its deficit and cut it to five, 13-8, just four minutes later. State would push its lead back to nine on Chekwa's jumper at the 8:48 mark, before an 11-3 run by the Lady Privateers pulled the hosts to within one with just more than four minutes left. MState would exhibit the last burst of energy, however, scoring nine of the half's final 11 points to take an eight-point lead into the break.

Having closed out a short two-game road trip, the Maroon and White will return to action on Monday when State comes home to play host to the four-team, two-day Mississippi State Classic in Humphrey Coliseum. Purdue (6-2) and Centenary (1-6) will tip off tournament action on Monday at 4:30 p.m., with the host Lady Bulldogs battling Morehead State (5-2) in the nightcap at 7 p.m.

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