News from MSU Media Relations--March 8

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Men's Tennis, Softball, Men's Basketball, Track & Field and Women's Tennis.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - In cold and rainy conditions Friday afternoon, the Mississippi State men's tennis team dropped a 4-0 decision to 21st-ranked Alabama at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. With only singles being contested due to weather conditions, UA won the first four points to clinch the win. With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 4-5 this season while the Tide improved to 11-3.

Alabama took control of singles play early, winning the first set on all six courts. The Tide took a 1-0 lead when Sammy Struyf closed out Bulldog Chris Doerr 6-2, 6-2 on court #3. Bama extended its lead to 2-0 when UA's Matt Thibaudeau defeated State's 32nd-ranked Philippe Frayssinoux 6-3, 6-4 on court #2. The score went to 3-0 as UA's Javier Bes topped MSU freshman Antonio Lastre 6-3, 6-3 on court #5. The clinching point came on court #4 as Bama's Dan Buikema knocked off State's Ryan Farlow 6-4, 7-6(6). MSU senior Ivan Bjelica, ranked 26th, and Bama's 94th-ranked Saketh Myneni were notched at 2-6, 6-4 on court one while UA's Michael Jung led MSU's Tanner Stump 6-3, 2-5 on court six when play was suspended due to rain.

Since 1969, the Bulldogs still lead the Tide 25-22 in the series. MSU's loss to UA was their second straight in the series. MSU fell to 0-3 to start SEC play for the third consecutive season.


Softball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - No. 18 Mississippi State collected season highs in hits and runs en route to a 19-2, five-inning defeat of Charleston Southern on a cold, wet opening day of the Bulldog Classic at the MSU Softball Field.

Five Bulldogs collected multiple hits on the day. Jessie Bailey matched her career high four RBI on a 2-for-3 plate outing while senior Courtney Bures extended her hit streak to nine games with a 3-for-4 outing that included a pair of RBI and three runs scored. Fellow senior Hayle Guess scored a career-best four runs, two on the first inside-the-park home run by an MSU player since 2001, while driving in three on a perfect 2-for-2 afternoon.

Another senior, Megan Bateman, went 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of RBI and two runs, while freshman Ali Bainbridge put together a pair of hits and accounted for three MState runs in her two plate appearances.

The Bulldogs opened the game with a six-run first inning and never looked back as they moved to 18-4 on the season. MSU plated all six runs with two outs in the frame. Bures kicked off the rally with a single up the middle. She scored on Sammie Jo Bailey's double to right center, and Bainbridge plated Bailey with her base hit to left. Bainbridge stole second and Guess scored her with a double to right field.

"We did a great job of putting up runs with two outs in the first inning," MSU head coach Jay Miller said. "It was a good way to start the game, and we really did a nice job of putting hits together. We never took the pressure off, and that is a good sign as we get ready to begin SEC play next week. With the cold and the rain, we did a nice job of staying focused out and making plays out there. Kelsey did a really nice job in the circle for us, and it was just a good overall effort from everyone today. We had a great offensive game in very tough conditions."

Jessie Spain drew a walk to continue the inning, and Jessie Bailey plated two of her four runs with a double down the line in left field that scored Spain and Guess. Brittany Bell scored Bailey with her double to cap the six-run burst.

Kelsey Nurnberg wouldn't need any further offensive support as she moved to a career-best 10-2 on the season after giving up two late runs on three hits with four strikeouts in the complete-game effort. Jill Shondel fell to 1-4 on the year as she allowed five runs on four hits in an inning and a third for Charleston Southern (9-14).

The Bulldog offense continued to pour on the offense with a pair of runs in the second on a Bainbridge single and an error, and four more in the third. After Courtney Nesbit drove in a run, Guess added the final two runs on her fifth home run of the season.

After Bateman capped a two-run fourth with an RBI single, MSU capped the scoring with a five-run top of the fifth. Guess and Spain were hit by a pitch and walked, respectively, to kick off the frame. After both advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch, Bailey plated them with her second hit of the day, a base hit back up the middle. Bateman scored another run on a single to center before Bures drove in the final two runs with her single up the middle.

State's nightcap with Louisiana Tech was cancelled due to rain that entered the Starkville area. The Bulldog Classic resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday, with MSU set to take the field against Austin Peay at 2 p.m. and the Lady Bucs at 4 p.m.


Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Having a week ago clinched the outright SEC Western Division title, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State (20-9, 11-4) close out their regular-season slate by playing host to the resurgent LSU Tigers (13-16, 6-9) Saturday afternoon on the MSU campus. Tip-off time for the 193rd all-time series renewal between these divisional rivals is set for 3 p.m. CT at Humphrey Coliseum.

The contest will be televised regionally by Raycom Sports with Dave Baker and former Vanderbilt standout Barry Booker set to handle the play-by-play and color analysis, respectively. The MSU-LSU game can also be heard on XM Satellite Radio Channel 231.

A limited number of $10 discounted tickets will go on sale beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Humphrey Coliseum box office. The tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

Prior to the Saturday afternoon clash, MState senior players Charles Rhodes and Billy Begley, as well as senior manager Lan Ingram, will be recognized during ‘Senior Day' festivities. At halftime, Mississippi State will honor the school's first-ever NCAA Tournament team, as players and staff members from the 1962-63 MSU club return to campus for a special weekend of activities.

Coach Rick Stansbury's 20-9 Bulldogs have secured the SEC West's No. 1 seed in next week's SEC Tournament to be held at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. MSU owns an 11-4 conference mark after dropping a heartbreaking 86-85 overtime decision to 16th-ranked Vanderbilt this past Wednesday at historic Memorial Gymnasium. As a team, the Bulldogs still rank second among the NCAA leaders in field-goal percentage defense (.368) and blocked shots (8.03 bpg). With a school-record 233 blocks on the year, MSU needs eight more rejects to break the current all-time SEC single-season mark of 240 blocks set by the 1997-98 Kentucky club in 39 games.

Individually, State is paced by the all-SEC tandem of junior Jamont Gordon (17.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg & 4.8 apg) and Rhodes (16.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg & 56% FGs). Currently, Gordon and Rhodes rank ninth and 11th on MSU's all-time scoring list with 1,476 and 1,339 career points, respectively. Rhodes and Gordon also stand 14th and 15th in career rebounding at State with 648 and 634 boards, respectively. Earlier this week, Gordon moved into third place on the school's all-time list with 455 career assists.

Guided by interim head coach Butch Pierre, a former three-year starting point guard at Mississippi State, the revitalized LSU Tigers are 13-16 overall and 6-9 in SEC play. However, LSU is 5-3, including a current four-game winning streak, since Pierre took over for John Brady last month. The Tigers are led offensively by junior guard Marcus Thornton, who ranks second in the league in scoring (19.1 ppg) behind Vanderbilt's Shan Foster. Freshman forward Anthony Randolph averages 15.4 points, a team-high 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, while junior center Chris Johnson adds 11.3 points, 6.3 boards and 2.8 blocks.

Having won at LSU, 61-39, in their SEC opener in January, the Bulldogs are bidding for their first back-to-back season series sweeps over LSU since sweeping the Tigers five consecutive seasons from 1994 to 1998 under the guidance of former MSU head coach Richard Williams.


Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's men's track and field team will open their 2008 outdoor campaign this weekend at the USA Jaguars Premier in Mobile, Ala. Action from Jaguar Track will last all day on Saturday, Mar. 8, with action starting at 10:30 a.m. (CST).

The Lady Bulldogs finished their indoor campaign last weekend at the SEC Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. Junior Marrissa Harris notched three NCAA provisional qualifying marks in the 60-meter hurdles, pentathlon and long jump and will continue her indoor season next week at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on the campus of University of Arkansas.

Other teams competing at the meet with the Bulldogs are host-USA, Alabama A&M, Alcorn State, Nicholls State, Mississippi Valley State and Troy.

All results can be accessed at www.usajaguars.com.


Women's Tennis
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - On a day where the weather forced play indoors, Mississippi State's women's tennis team fell Friday, dropping a tough 4-3 decision to the University of Alabama. The Lady Bulldogs dropped to 5-4 overall and 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference with the loss. Alabama improved to 3-7 overall and 1-2 in the SEC.

MSU got off to a quick start by capturing the first doubles match with a strong 8-1 win by Radka Ferancova and Renee Joseph over Bianca Svensson and Alice Tunaru at the No. 2 position. However, in the other two matches, Alabama would outlast MSU with identical 9-8 tiebreak wins to capture the doubles point. On court No. 3, Daniela Juskova and Valeriya Makarycheva would fall to Tiffany Welcher and Meritt Emery. To finish out doubles play, MSU's 45th-ranked duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers were defeated by Alabama's Andrea Brenes and Paulina Bigos on court No. 1.

After just a few games in the books, singles play was moved indoors midway through the first sets. Once inside, Alabama took a 2-0 advantage when Welcher completed a 6-3, 6-0 victory over MSU's Banikova at the No. 1 position. MSU would come right back with de Villiers defeating Meritt Emory 6-1, 7-5.

MSU would then take a 3-2 lead with hard-fought comeback victories in two three-set matches. Both Joseph and Ferancova rallied from a set down to outlast their opponents. Joseph provided a 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 win over Alabama's Tunaru to tie the match at 2-2. Then, on court No. 3, Ferancova would claim a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(6) victory over Bigos, overcoming a 5-2 deficit in the third set.

But Alabama would put a halt to the MSU comeback bid by posting straight-set wins on courts 5 and 6 to clinch the match. MSU's DeAndra Saddler would fall to Svensson 6-3, 6-2 on court No. 5. The match-clincher then came at the No. 6 spot, where AU's Shelly Godwin bested State's Makarycheva 6-4, 6-3.

Mississippi State continues its road trip by travelling to Auburn on Sunday. The match versus the Tigers is slated for 1 p.m. CT.


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