MSU Lady Bulldogs Defeat USM 77-56

As the clock wound down in Thursday night's 77-56 victory over the Southern Mississippi Lady Golden Eagles, Lady Bulldogs head coach Sharon Fanning treated it as she would treat any other victory. It was the coach's 200th win at Mississippi State, but Fanning displayed a look of surprise when she was informed of the news after the contest.

"It was?" Fanning asked when prompted to discuss her milestone victory at Mississippi State. "OK. That is great!"

Fanning's 200th victory as a Bulldog over in-state rival Southern Mississippi (6-1) turned out to be a convincing and commanding one as the Lady Bulldogs (6-2) earned a 4-3 lead only two minutes into the first half and did not relinquish that lead throughout the remainder of the contest.

The game was marked by missed opportunities by the Lady Bulldogs on offense, as they failed to make several lay-ups and short jumpers. But on the other side, their aggressive defense harassed the Lady Golden Eagles and forced them into a total of 30 turnovers.

"I was pleased with our defensive effort," Fanning said. "I feel like we played really hard, played well together and tried to get them in position to make mistakes."

In addition to the forced turnovers, the Mississippi State squad also tried to contest every shot. That added effort caused the previously undefeated Lady Golden Eagle team to shoot a paltry 35 percent from the field.

"We just came out playing Mississippi State basketball," said junior Robin Porter, who scored 12 points in the rout. "We ran the floor, and we played with heart. Our defensive job is to contain all guards and contest all shots, and that's what we did."

The same defensive output was not matched by Southern Mississippi, which managed to force only 12 turnovers from the Lady Bulldogs. Southern Mississippi also tried hard to stop the Lady Bulldogs' scoring threat, which seems to be able to come from any player in the starting line-up.

Coming into the game, the Lady Bulldogs featured four players who averaged double-digit scoring in the team's previous seven games. Tonight, it was Tysheka Grimes who took over as the primary scorer.

The sophomore collected a season-high 20 points on 5-of-11 from the field and gathered eight rebounds in the contest. Despite scoring a team-high in points, Grimes was quick to thank her teammates for giving her the opportunities.

"I would like to thank my teammates for that, because they found me and gave me the ball when I needed it," Grimes said.

And now that their successful two-game homestand is complete, the Bulldogs will turn their attention to the Memphis Lady Tigers. That game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip-off on Sunday afternoon.

"We've had this homestand, and now we have to go on the road Sunday," Grimes said. "We at least have to play as well as we did today or better and hopefully come out with a victory."

Brent Wilburn, a sports reporter for the MSU student newspaper The Reflector, is a staff reporter for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network.

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