News from MSU Media Relations--October 14

The lastest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Mississippi State (2-12-0, 1-6-0) gave a valiant effort, but in the end, South Carolina's (10-5-1, 4-2-1) offensive pressure was too much, as the Gamecocks defeated MSU, 1-0.

The Gamecocks got the game's first scoring chance in the 11th minute. Kimmy Gillespie sent a shot toward the front of the net that Blakely Mattern headed off the crossbar. Sara Moore sent the rebound out of MSU territory, keeping the game scoreless. USC applied pressure over the next ten minutes. After Katie Lynn Harden was called for a handball at the top of the box, Ashley Kirk took the direct kick, but Taryn Holland made the save.

MSU got its first opportunity in the 21st minute. Mary Kate Ayers stole the ball in the middle of USC territory and let a shot go from the top of the circle that South Carolina netminder Lindsay Thorstenson made a diving stop on.

With 17 seconds remaining in the first half, Mary Worthen ended up with the ball, and shot from 25 yards out. But Holland made the save, and the teams went into halftime tied at zero.

South Carolina outshot the Bulldogs 7-1 in the first half, with Holland making three saves.

The Gamecocks started quick out of the half. Five minutes in, Felicia Schroeder dribbled down the left side, and sent a pass towards Samantha Diaz-Matosas. However, Holland intercepted the pass, and play continued.

In the 59th minute, after MSU knocked the ball past the goal line, USC lined up for corner kick. Erin Sullivan took the kick, and Worthen headed the ball towards the net. But once again, the ball bounced off the crossbar.

South Carolina broke through in the 73rd minute. After an MSU foul, Gillespie sent the free kick toward the front of the net. The ball got past Holland, and Mattern headed it in for the 1-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs were held to a season-low two shots, as they were outshot 18-2. Holland made six saves on the night. MSU has now been held scoreless for the last 455:47.

The Bulldogs return to action on Sunday afternoon when they travel to No. 17 Florida for an 11:00 a.m. match. You can follow all the action live at

Cross Country
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's cross country teams will compete in the 18th Annual Chili Pepper Festival on Saturday, Oct. 14, in Fayetteville, Ark. The meet will serve as prep work as the State squads for the upcoming Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championship in two weeks. The men's 10K is set for 9:45 a.m. followed by the women's 6K at 10:30 a.m. CST.

The collegiate races are just a portion of festival, but over 40 Division I and II schools will be competing at the event. A total of 10 races will be competed during the day in northwest Arkansas. The Chile Pepper hosts approximately 3,500 runners and over 4,000 spectators each year and is one of the largest cross country festivals in the nation.

Both races on Saturday will mark the longest distance both squads have run this season. MSU is making its first appearance in the event since the 2000 campaign when the State's women tallied a 12th-place finish.

In MState's last outing at the Notre Dame Invitational on Sept. 29, the Lady Bulldogs posted a 15th-place finish while the men's team placed 16th in the field. The MSU women were led by senior Jennifer McPherson with a time of 17:43. State's Travis McKay was the pace-setter for the Bulldogs, running the two-mile race in 24:57.

Results from the event will be posted on the festival's web site –

Women's Basketball
While facing a tough SEC and non-conference schedule and, despite a youth movement that struggled at times, the Lady Bulldogs 6-22 finish in 2005-06 managed to feature a scattering of positives along the way, including a road upset of archrival Mississippi. With the utilization of 11 different starting lineups in the last campaign, including one that featured a program-first four freshmen, the squad still managed to get the experience that should carry through the next year, as well as years down the road.

Head coach Sharon Fanning enters her 12th season at the helm just one win shy of her 500th career win. With the addition of the rookie student-athletes also comes a new, albeit familiar, face on the MSU coaching staff. Nitra Perry, a former Lady Bulldog (1996-2000), joined the MSU staff in July.

"I expect success even though we're a young team," Fanning said. "We have a sophomore class with a great deal of experience. We need to be more consistent having learned from our mistakes last year. I was proud of the way we competed even though it was difficult managing the rotations. Hopefully, they can influence the incoming class we have."

Despite picking up invaluable experience in 2005-06, the Lady Bulldogs will feature much of the same look in the upcoming campaign. Almost half (seven of 15 total players) of the roster are freshmen or transfers. The lucky seven will be joined by five sophomores, a pair of juniors and one senior to fill out the squad list.

Returning from last season, sophomore guard/forward Robin Porter (Abbeville, Ala.) looks to build upon her successful freshman campaign. Porter started all 28 games as a rookie, recording 10.6 points per game and shooting 78.8 percent from the free-throw line. In addition to her offensive output, Porter brought down six rebounds a contest and was named to the SEC all-Freshman team.

"Robin's success was certainly an individual highlight last season. We hope there's a great deal of confidence and expectation for this coming year considering the year she had last season. She's been a leader for us on and off the court. I think she has a vision for success for this team," Fanning noted.

Also returning are guards Heather Hollis (Sulligent, Ala.), Miayorka Johnson (Ripley, Miss.), Marneshia Richard (Lamar, Miss.) and Bethany Workman (Springtown, Texas). Hollis started in 18 contests and was named to the 2005 MSU Classic all- Tournament team. Johnson earned the team's Most Improved Player award last season after starting in nine contests, averaging more than eight points per game and shooting 39.4 percent from the field.

Richard started 17 games and closed out the season in a tie for ninth on the freshman all-time season list with 40 steals. She also received the Most Assists awards for totaling 68 on the year, the Field Goal Percentage Award (45.2) and the Coaches Award. Workman saw action in six games last year and was named to the SEC Good Works Team. Sophomore forward Lauren Roberts saw action in all 28 games with 11 starts to her credit. Junior Amy Reeder, who saw a scattering of playing time as a freshman in 2004-05, made her first career start against Florida in February and performed admirably.

"Heather has come back from her surgery and seems to be working hard and getting stronger each day," Fanning said. "With Miayorka, her biggest challenge is her consistency and endurance. She understands the game. I think she's one of the more experienced players and can certainly play one step ahead of everybody else."

As the lone senior on the 2006-07 roster, Natasha Henderson (Homer, La.) is expected to carry a tough load for the Lady Bulldogs this season. Henderson saw action in all 28 games last year and was penciled into the starting lineup in seven of those contests. As a forward/center, Henderson connected on 45 percent of her shots from the field and recorded 27 blocked shots to finish her junior campaign tied for second on the MSU all-time junior season blocked shots list.

"Natasha made a great deal of improvement last season," Fanning said. "From a defensive and rebounding standpoint, I think she had a great deal of confidence. Offensively, she gained that confidence as the year progressed. Hopefully, she will step into a role where she's comfortable. I think she wants to be a good leader for this basketball team, and she wants to set an example and prepare hard to win. She understands what it takes to win at this level and is going to put forth that effort."

The 2006 Louisiana Miss Basketball, guard Alexis Rack comes to MSU from Franklin High School. Having collected three First Team all-State honors and three Class 3A Player of the Year awards, Rack also helped lead her team to back-to-back state championships. Last season, Rack led the Lady Hornets to another title game appearance and a 41-2 overall record. She finished her career with 2,846 points.

Having played in 127 career games at West Limestone (Ala.) High School, freshman Channa Campbell brings an impressive resume to Starkville, headlined by 3,231 career points and 1,607 career rebounds. A four-time Alabama Class 3A all-State selection, Campbell was an Alabama finalist for the McDonald's all-American team. Joining Campbell at the forward position is Vandebilt Catholic (La.) High School's Bethany Washington. Washington averaged 13.5 points per game her senior season under Mississippi State graduate Kathy Luke. A native of Houma, La., Washington is a two-time all-State selection.

Hailing from Capitol High School in Baton Rouge, La., forward Tysheka Grimes was a three-time Louisiana all-State selection. Grimes helped lead the Lady Lions to the 2005 Class 4A state title and the 2006 Class 3A title. The tallest incoming player, Katherine Young stands at 6-3 and prepped at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Mich. Young helped lead Cass to a 15-5 mark her junior year and a fifth-place finish in the district tournament.

After spending two seasons at Southwest Tennessee Community College, Imesia Jackson returns home to Oktibbeha County as a Lady Bulldog. Jackson prepped at East Oktibbeha High School before heading to the junior college ranks and now returns as a National Junior College Athletic Association honorable mention all-American. During her sophomore campaign, Jackson ranked fifth in scoring in the Tennessee Junior and Community College Athletic Association with a scoring average of 18.7 points per game.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions and it's going to be a matter of our preseason and how quickly we progress as a team," Fanning added. "These are talented young ladies, but learning to play together will be a major factor."

The Lady Bulldogs begin practice for the upcoming season October 13 at 7 p.m. CT. After hosting the Houston Jaguars in an exhibition contest on Nov. 6, MSU opens the season against Troy University on Nov. 10.

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