STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State women's basketball team (15-9, 5-4 SEC) returns to conference play Sunday afternoon, facing the Florida Gators (6-19, 0-10 SEC) in a 2 p.m. CT tipoff from the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville. The game will be broadcast in the state of Florida on SUN Sports.
Mississippi State leads the overall series with Florida, 16-15. In games played in Gainesville, the Gators lead 8-5 and have won three out of the last five played there. In the last five games in the overall series, UF holds a 3-2 lead. The last MSU win in Gainesville came on Feb. 2, 2003 (83-54). Florida won both meetings last season (63-48 at MSU and 98-83 in the SEC Tournament in North Little Rock, Ark.). State has not defeated Florida since 2004.
The Lady Bulldogs are already 1-0 on the year against the state of Florida, having defeated Florida State, 65-60 in overtime on Nov. 30. All-time against the Sunshine State, MSU is 24-18. Other Florida schools MSU has faced include Stetson, Central Florida and Florida A&M.
In Thursday night's win over Savannah State, sophomore forward Lauren Roberts scored a season-high 12 points and was just one of three Lady Bulldogs to score in double-digits in the win. Junior forward Imesia Jackson led all scorers with 25, while freshman guard Alexis Rack scored 11 points for her sixth straight double-digit scoring outing.
The Lady Bulldogs dished out a season-high 22 assists against Savannah State. The last time MSU dished out 22 assists was Dec. 16, 2003 against UT- Martin. MState's 87.5 percent (21-for-24) from the charity strip against Savannah State is the highest single-game free throw percentage put up by the Lady Bulldogs this season.
State continues to rank in the top half of the SEC in several statistical categories. In overall games, the Lady Bulldogs are second in three-point field goal percentage defense (.290), fourth in three-point field goals made (5.58), fifth in offensive rebounds (15.38) and sixth in field goal percentage defense (.386). In overall individual categories, sophomore guard Marneshia Richard is fifth with 2.38 steals per game.
In league games only, MState is second in three-point field goal percentage (.353) and three-point field goal percentage defense (.271), fourth in free-throw percentage (.699), fifth in scoring offense (68.4) and sixth in offensive rebounds (14.33). Richard is third in conference games in steals (2.56) and sixth in assists (4.0) and field goal percentage (.532). Freshman guard Alexis Rack is second in three-point field goals made (2.33), while freshman forward Tysheka Grimes is sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.429).
Florida enters Sunday's contest 6-19 overall and still in search of their first conference win of the season (0-10). Sophomore guard Sha Brooks, a preseason all-SEC First Team selection, leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game. Junior guard Depree Bowden (13.6) and sophomore forward Marshae Dotson (13.5) also average double figures for the Gators.
Despite not having a win in conference play, Florida has fought during their last three contests, losing all three by an average of 10 points. LSU defeated the Gators in their previous contest, 66-79, in Baton Rouge. In their last two contests, senior forward Brianana Phillips has been hot, averaging 18.0 points in each of those games. Against Kentucky, Phillips tallied a career-high 23 points. In addition to being second on the team in scoring, Bowden leads the Gators in the majority of statistical categories, including rebounding (7.6), assists (2.7) and steals (2.4).
MSU is 18-34 all-time on television. In MState's only other televised contest this season, the Lady Bulldogs fell to Georgia 61-74 and defeated Arkansas, 80-75, both at Humphrey Coliseum. State has faced Florida only one other time on SUN Sports, on Feb. 18, 2001. The Lady Bulldogs won 79-75.
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State softball team used key hits and took advantage of 12 opponent errors to open the 2007 season and the Bulldog Round Robin with two victories. The Bulldogs defeated Iowa State, 9-3, and then held off a late rally by Purdue to win, 6-5.
"I thought the kids came out real well today," said Mississippi State head coach Jay Miller. "It was a tough first day, both from a pitching standpoint and a hitting standpoint. We did a nice job in terms of swinging the bats. The pitching did a good job in both games for us. Four of the five pitchers threw today and all of them did a nice job. We made some nice plays defensively, but we also made some mistakes. But those are things we can learn from and improve on."
Despite seven Purdue errors, Mississippi State was forced to hold off a furious Boilermaker two-out, seventh inning rally to hang on for a 6-5 victory in the nightcap.
Behind 6-2 and down to its final at-bat, the Boilermakers went to work. After a fielder's choice, Ashley Hall stole second and Kelsey Haupert walked. After both moved up a base on Kelsey Nurnberg's wild pitch, Catherine Zaworski singled, driving both in and cutting the deficit to 6-4. Jenna Alexander made it a one-run game with a single of her own, but Sara Hickerson came on and got Katie Mitchell to pop out to end the game.
MState started things in the first. With Chelsea Bramlett on third, Courtney Bures singled, giving MSU the 1-0 lead.
Purdue tied the game in the second on a Mitchell double, but the Bulldogs retook the lead in the third. Nakita Boyce reached on an error and Hayle Guess doubled. After Bures' ground out scored Boyce, Katie Cooley reached on a fielder's choice, and scored when Gina McCloud reached on an error.
The Boilermakers got a run back in the bottom half, but MSU added a run in the fifth and another in the sixth, setting up Purdue's comeback attempt.
Kelsey Nurnberg went 4.2 innings while striking out three for the victory. Sara Hickerson picked up her first save since the 2004 season.
Down 2-0, State took advantage of four ISU errors to break the game open in the second inning. Sammie Jo Bailey led of with a single and advanced to third when Katie Cooley reached on an error. After Blair Hewett's sacrifice fly cut the lead to one, Jessie Bailey doubled, tying the game. One out later, Chelsea Bramlett singled, giving MState the lead. The Bulldogs scored the final three runs in the inning off of three ISU errors.
Mississippi State added to its lead in both the third and fourth. With one out, Hewett singled and pinch-runner Rachel Hurley scored on Jessie Bailey's triple. Bramlett brought her home with a two-out single. In the fourth, after Nakita Boyce and Hayle Guess singled, Courtney Bures singled, driving in Boyce.
Iowa State opened the game plating two runs. Fallon Johnson singled and Courtney Wray walked. On the play, Hewett's error allowed Johnson to score for the first run of the game. Alex Johnson then hit a two-out single for an early 2-0 advantage.
Kelli Miller went struck out three in five innings to earn the win. The victory was her 28th of her career, tying her with Kim Davis for sixth all-time in MSU history. MSU out-hit the Cyclones, 13-5, while Iowa State committed five errors.
Jessie Bailey led the Bulldogs, going 2-4 with two runs while driving in two RBI. Bures went 2-4 with a run and two RBI, and Nakita Boyce added two runs and an RBI on 2-4 hitting.
Added Miller, "We got down a couple runs, but we came right back and scored quite a few in the second inning and really took control of the game."
Mississippi State returns to action tomorrow as Day Two of the Bulldog Robin continues. The Bulldogs will face Kennesaw State (2-0) at 2 p.m. and Iowa State at 4 p.m. Admission is free, and fans can also follow all the action on www.mstateathletics.com
Track & Field
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Mississippi State completed day one of the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark. with five individuals setting new career marks at the University of Arkansas-hosted event.
Sophomore Marrissa Harris edited a new personal-best in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.67 seconds. In the distance competitions, MState had two competitors establish individual best on Friday. Mina Thorstenson and Brittany Detzel turned in a time of five minutes and four seconds and 5: 18.29 respectively in the mile run. Sophomore Nicole Rosetti registered a career-best time of 18:21.65 in the 5,000-meter run. Her time posted marks the second time this season that she has carded an individual best in the event. Competing for the first time this season in the 400-meter dash, freshman Laquinta Aaron recorded a time of 57.86.
"We got another day tomorrow and we have two weeks until the SEC meet," said MSU head coach Al Schmidt.
In the throws, Emily Sanders scored a throw of 52 feet, three and a quarter in the 20 lb. weight throw – which set a new career mark for the sophomore.
Saturday's competition at the Randal Tyson Track Center will begin at 10 a.m. with the women's high jump finals.
Live results from this weekend's meet will be available at www.hogwired.com.