News from MSU Media Relations--November 17

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

Football/Basketball Parking Saturday, November 18
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State Game Operations and Game-Day Parking officials announced Thursday that only football parking passes would be honored Saturday with respect to the Bulldogs' football game against Arkansas and their men's basketball game vs. Winthrop.

The MSU football team plays Arkansas at 1:30 p.m. at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. The Bulldog men's basketball team plays host to Winthrop at 6 p.m. in the Humphrey Coliseum.

Officials will recognize football parking credentials and will assist those vehicles to their respective lots. Parking for that evening's men's basketball game will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and parking officials will not monitor the usual basketball reserved areas.

MSU fans who intend to attend both the football and men's basketball games are encouraged to park in their assigned football lot and walk to the Coliseum for the basketball contest.

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Coming off a 74-43 win over Troy University, the Mississippi State women's basketball team returns to action Friday night against Southeastern Louisiana of the Southland Conference. Tipoff for MSU's second non-conference contest is set for 7 p.m. at Humphrey Coliseum.

MSU currently holds a 4-3 advantage over the Lions, including a 4-1 mark in Starkville. The Lady Bulldogs won the last meeting, 71-55. Junior Imesia Jackson leads MState with 17.0 points per game, while sophomore Kristy Carlin leads the Lions with 12.0 ppg. In rebounding, freshman Bethany Washington brought down a team-high nine rebounds against Troy, while SLU is led by senior forward Brenita Williams' nine rebounds per game.

Having been successful in non-conference play under head coach Sharon Fanning, State looks to improve on the 65-6 home non-conference record the Lady Bulldogs have posted in the past 11 years. In all non-conference games in the Fanning era, MState is 117-58.

The guest coach for Friday's game is Dr. Denise Rown, principal of Starkville's Ward-Stewart Elementary School.

In MSU's season opener against Troy, Jackson's 17 points was a team-high for MSU and Washington added three assists and two steals in addition to her nine rebounds. Sophomore Heather Hollis hit a career-high four three-pointers, all in the second half, to help lead MState to a 31-point victory over the Trojans.

SE Louisiana enters Friday's game with a 1-1 mark, having dropped their season opener, 46-92, to Mississippi. The Lions defeated Central Florida, 67-49 on Monday evening.

Mississippi State returns to action Monday night, Nov. 20, when the Lady Bulldogs host Nashville-based Belmont University.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Admission to Friday night's MSU/Southeastern Louisiana women's basketball is free of charge to those attendees who show their MSU/Arkansas football game ticket.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head softball coach Jay Miller has helped lead the United States Junior Pan American team to a perfect 7-0 record heading into pool play, in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The team has not allowed a run, having outscored its opponents, 82-0.

The Americans have run-ruled all but one opponent, with their closest victory coming over Canada, 3-0. They have out hit their opponents 89-0, having no-hit Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Aruba.

Ten players are hitting .500 or better, led by Monica Harrison (Garden Grove, Calif.) with an .800 batting average. The opposition is hitting .076 against them, and has struck out 70 times in 119 at-bats.

Miller is no stranger to international competition. In the early ‘90s, Miller served on the National Team selection committee that was in charge of choosing the inaugural USA Softball Team that competed in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He has also served as a head coach with the USA Red Squad that captured Gold in the 2001 U.S. Cup and the USA Elite Team that took home runner-up honors at the 202 Canada Cup and the championship of the 203 Canada Cup. He also served as an assistant for the USA National Team that won gold at both the Pacific Rim Sports Summit and the International Cup in 2005.

The U.S. will have an off day today before playing the second-place winner, tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.

Women's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State women's golf coach Christi Sanders announced the signing of Knoxville, Tenn., native Erika Thornton on Thursday to a national-letter-of-intent to compete with the Lady Bulldogs next season.

Thornton, a senior at Farragut High School, is the defending Tennessee state champion and has accumulated 11 first-place finishes and 24 top-five finishes since 2003 as a freshman. Among the highlights for Thornton in 2006 are first-place finishes in high school competition at the Tennessee Honors Preview and the Business Roundtable Invitational along with first-place finishes at the SJGT Gaylord Springs Invitational and the SJGT Willow Creek Classic in national competition. Thornton won the TSSAA Regional Championship in 2004 and 2005 and received All State honors both years.

"Erika loves the Southeastern Conference and I am excited that she has chosen Mississippi State to continue her education and golf career," said Sanders. "Erika has gained tremendous experience through numerous golf tournaments in high school and on the state and national levels. Erika has a great deal of length and accuracy in her game. She is a fighter on the course and is able to make the shots count when the pressure is on. She is a team player and already has an incredible work ethic which will be to her advantage at the next level."

Thornton's teaching professional is Randy Wylie at the Fairways and Greens Practice Facility in Knoxville and her home course is the Willow Creek Golf Club. In addition to her golf accomplishments, Thornton is an executive board member of the Students Mentoring Another Class club, a member of Y-Teens, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the First Baptist Concord Youth Group and Young Life. She is the daughter of Samuel and Victoria Thornton.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State University Associate Head Track and Field Coach Steve Dudley has announced the signing of Morrow, Ga. native Justin Christian to a national letter-of-intent. Christian will begin competing for the Bulldogs during the 2007-08 season.

As a short and long sprinter, he competes in the 55-meter, 60-meter, 100-meter and 200-meter competitions. Christian's time of 6.33 seconds in the 55-meter run at the Tennessee State University Invitational ranks at the second-best time in the nation in that category. He also ranks third in the nation in the 60-meter sprint at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships. He broke two Clayton County (Ga.) records at the 2006 Clayton County (Ga.) Championships. He turned in a mark of 10.44 in the prelims of the 100-meter event and 21.33 in the 200-meter.

"Our sprint program has had some holes in the short sprint area that Justin (Christian) will fill nicely," said Associate Head Track Coach Steve Dudley. "The most impressive thing about Justin is that he is one of the top sprinters in the country that works full time, goes to school and still manages to compete at a high level. I really look forward in working with someone that likes hard work!"

Christian is a member of the Quicksilver Track Club based in Atlanta, Ga. and under the guidance of Eric Bowen of QTC. As a part of the club, he ran in the 55-meter run at the Volunteer Indoor Track Classic with a time of 6.37 to claim second place.

"He (Justin Christian) brings a lot of hard work and dedication," said Eric Bowen. "He is one of the most physically gifted athletes that I have ever coached. He has the tools to be a great sprinter at Mississippi State – they are getting a good one."

At Morrow High School, he came in first place at the Eagle Icebreaker Invitational with a time of 10.62 in the 100-meter. At the Stephenson Invitational, Christian posted a time of 10.98 in the finals of the 100-meter run of the event, placing second in the finals.

"I think it was a big decision and the right decision to go to Mississippi State," said Christian. "I loved it there and it reminded me of my hometown and the program will push me to get better."

Christian becomes the third member of the 2007-08 class on the men's side. He joins Distance standouts Ben Blankenship of Stillwater, Minn., Michael Chapa and Thuom Mathiang from Wallace State (Ala.) Community College.

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