STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team opened its 2008 dual-match campaign Sunday, defeating UAB 4-1 at the McCarthy Gymnasium on the MSU campus. Only singles play was contested due to heavy rain which forced the match indoors.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard first when 14th-ranked senior Philippe Frayssinoux ousted UAB's Tyrone Ewels 6-1, 6-2 on court #2. Moments later, State senior Ivan Bjelica closed out Blazer Slawomir Szeremeta 6-1, 6-3 at the #1 position to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. State jumped to a commanding 3-0 lead when junior Ryan Farlow topped UAB's Johannes Spangenberg 6-1, 6-4 at the #3 position. UAB narrowed the gap to 3-1 when Blazer Dan Cornei downed State sophomore Artem Kuznetsov 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4 at the #4 position. The decision would then come down to court #5 featuring State's Antonio Lastre and UAB's Brian Ly and court #6 between State's Maximilien Genuini and the Blazer's Alex Emery. The first completed match came on court #6 when Genuini overwhelmed UAB's Emery 6-1, 6-4 to clinch the win for MSU. The remaining match was suspended with Ly leading Lastre 6-4, 4-6, 4-2.
"I was proud of the way our guys responded today," said MSU head coach Per Nilsson. "It was a little tough to have to play around the weather but our guys came out tough. Obviously there are things we have to get better at, but this was a good way to open the season."
Sunday's win marked the fourth-straight season-opening win for State as they moved to 15-3 in their last 18 openers. The Bulldogs improved to 23-1 all-time against UAB with the win Sunday and moved to 22-1 against the Blazers in matches played in Starkville.
MSU's next action comes Thursday, Feb. 7 when they travel to Jackson, Miss., to take on arch-rival and fifth-ranked Mississippi in the annual River Hills Cup. Played at the River Hill Club, match time is set for 5 p.m. CT.
AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State could not overcome a prolonged offensive struggle in the first half Sunday afternoon. The Lady Bulldogs managed only two points during a 7-minute stretch as the homestanding Auburn Lady Tigers enjoyed a 16-2 run. From there, Auburn cruised to a 68-42 victory at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
M-State fell to 14-8 overall and 2-4 in Southeastern Conference play. The Lady Bulldogs are now winless in four conference road games. Auburn won its third straight from MSU, while moving to 15-6 overall and 3-3 in league play.
Both teams started hot. Alexis Rack hit a layup to give MSU an 8-7 lead with 16:18 left in the opening half. From there, only Auburn remained hot. During the next 7:01, the Lady Tigers put together a 16-2 run. During that stretch, MSU had back-to-back turnovers before scoring. After cutting the Auburn lead to 11-10, the Lady Bulldogs missed seven straight shots from the floor. By the time Marneshia Richard scored on a putback, the lead had grown to 23-12.
Aubun extended the first-half lead to 17 points before settling for a 35-22 push at the advantage. In the opening half, MSU hit on 10 of 32 shots from the floor for 31.3 percent. Turnovers were again a problem, with M-State giving possession away 10 times. Marneshia Richard had 8 points and Robin Porter 6 points in the opening half.
Auburn hit on 14 of 31 first-half shots for 45.2 percent. The hosts had a 21-18 rebounding advantage and overcame nine turnovers of their own.
In the second half, the MSU ladies again could not get the offense untracked. A basket by Richard was MSU's lone points in the first 11:05 of the second half. By the time, the Lady Bulldogs scored again, Auburn had salted the game away with 14-2 run to open up a 49-24 advantage. Back-to-back 3-point plays then allowed Auburn to bolt to a 30-point advantage at 56-26 with 7:22 remaining. Auburn eventually led by as many as 31, while MSU got no closer than the final margin the remainder of the way.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 17 of 67 shots from the field, for 25.4 percent. The Lady Bulldogs were 1 of 12 from 3-point range and 7 of 8 at the free throw line. Auburn hit 28 of 59 shots from the field for 47.5 percent. The Lady Tigers were 2 of 10 from 3-point range and a perfect 10 of 10 from the free throw line. Auburn held a 45-36 rebounding advantage and an amazing 44-14 advantage in points in the paint. The Lady Bulldogs finished with 17 turnovers, while Auburn had 19 turnovers.
Cassie Moore led Auburn with a career-high 17 points. DeWanna Bonner added 15 points 13 rebounds, while Sherell Hobbs scored 12 points. Richard led MSU with 12 points, while Porter and Mary Kathryn Govero each had 10 points. Tysheka Grimes led the Lady Bulldogs with 8 rebounds.
MSU returns home Thursday night to the Humphrey Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs host second-ranked Tennessee. Game time is 7 p.m. The contest will be televised regionally by CSS. The homestand concludes with Florida at 1:30 p.m. next Sunday. That contest will be shown by Fox Sports Net South.