MSU Lady Bulldogs Defeat Ole Miss 57-52

Staring at a potentially disastrous 0-4 start to begin conference play, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs immediately poured on the points at the start of their game against the Ole Miss Lady Rebels. They started with a 10-2 run and never relinquished that lead as they left Humphrey Coliseum with a 57-52 victory in their version of the Egg Bowl on the hardwood.

But even though the Lady Bulldogs (13-6, 1-3 SEC) never gave up their lead throughout the contest, they still had their share of problems and continued to allow the Lady Rebels (8-9, 2-2 SEC) to keep their heads above water and stay within striking distance of the lead.

In fact, the Mississippi State squad held Ole Miss scoreless from the field until there was 10:39 remaining in the first half, but they still only led the Lady Rebels 14-8 due to the penetration of the Lady Rebels and their ability to connect from the free-throw line where they went 12-of-16 in the first half and 18-of-24 for the game.

And despite the tight Mississippi State man-to-man defense which caused Ole Miss to shoot an anemic 16 percent from the field during the first half on 4-of-25 shooting, the Lady Bulldogs still found the Lady Rebels only one point behind them with 2:32 remaining in the first half.

"I think that tonight we started off pretty good," said sophomore Tysheka Grimes, who finished the game with nine points. "In the middle of the game, we got a little sloppy. But we regained our composure and we did what we had to do in the end."

But, as was the case throughout the game, Mississippi State did just enough to maintain its lead and to continually pull ahead. The team finished the first half on a 10-1 run, which was capped off with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from junior guard Marneshia Richard.

"We started off good against a team that we needed to get a lift against," said Richard, who played the game with a facemask after receiving a broken nose in the conference opener at Vanderbilt. "We were 0-3 in the SEC and we had to come out smoking. We came out, played hard and came away with a win."

Foul trouble became a problem for the Lady Bulldogs early in the second half, with Grimes picking up her fourth foul early in the half and Richard picking up her third foul early in the half. But head coach Sharon Fanning picked her spots for the players to compete in and both players played integral roles down the stretch.

In fact, arguably, the greatest second-half lift for the Lady Bulldogs came with 8:50 remaining in the game when they were ahead by only one point. Grimes received a pass from Richard, who scored a game-high 14 points and four assists which gave her number 271 for her career and put her in the top ten career assists leaders at Mississippi State, and buried a three-pointer. And she did the same on Mississippi State's next possession. Those late-game treys effectively put the game away for the Lady Bulldogs.

"We found a way to win, and I feel like it was a great team win for us," Fanning said. "And of course getting the first league win is important to us and getting that big stand at home."

Fanning also noted that the team's schedule doesn't get any easier and that the team must execute better to win their remaining SEC games. And the next game they have set their eyes on will be played Sunday at 2 p.m. when the team clashes with Arkansas in Fayetteville.

"Hopefully this gets us started and focused," Fanning said. "We have to play better basketball to continue to win in the SEC, I know that. There are some key stats that are just fundamentals of the game to win the next ballgame."

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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