McKinney scored the game's opening basket and freshman guard Marneshia Richard put MSU up 4-0 early before Birmingham Southern tied the game at 4-4 with 16:38 on the clock. State inched out by five at the 15:10 mark before BSC crawled back to within two with 14:44 left to play. MState went up by three at the 14:15 mark and from there extended the lead to six midway through the period. Holding a 20-12 advantage with 9:27 left to play, MSU rallied to go up by 15 at 29-14 with 3:16 remaining in the stanza. BSC fought back to cut the lead to 10, but it was not enough as the Lady Bulldogs took the 13-point, 34-21, lead into the lockerroom at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, MSU saw its lead grow to 16 behind jumpers from McKinney and Johnson. When BSC guard Brinti Ballard scored with 14:48 remaining, it cut the MState lead to 14 before the Panthers rattled off a 15-9 spurt to pull to within eight with 4:06 left to play. State rebounded with baskets from junior forward/center Natasha Henderson and Richard to bring the lead back to 11 with 2:45 left to play. During the final minutes of the game, BSC cut the margin to seven, but the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold on for a nine-point, 59-50, win.
Using a dominant inside game, the Lady Bulldogs managed to score 38 of their points in the paint compared to BSC's 18.
Johnson led all scorers with a career-high 21 points. McKinney scored 10 points and brought down 10 boards for the fourth double-double of her Maroon and White career and second straight this season.
LaWanda Young led Birmingham Southern with nine points, while Reba Ross added eight.
MSU opens Southeastern Conference play on Thursday night, Jan. 5, hosting the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks in a 7 p.m. contest at Humphrey Coliseum.
-Head coach Sharon Fanning has tallied a 109-46 overall non-conference record in her 11 years at MSU. She is now 63-8 in non-conference games at home.
-State is 2-0 versus Birmingham Southern. State is 5-0 against the Big South conference.
-Mississippi State used their seventh different lineup of the season on Monday night.
-Fanning is now just two wins shy of her 500th career victory.