State Gets Team Victory Over Illinois

CHICAGO, Ill. - The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs defeated the Fighting Illini of Illinois 72-67 in the United Center in Chicago, Illinois without their senior All-American LaToya Thomas. Sophomore guard Tan White sealed the victory in the final minute hitting 5-of-6 free throws to preserve the win in the Windy City.

MSU was without the services of All-American LaToya Thomas Saturday afternoon. Thomas did not travel to Illinois due to a death in the family. She will rejoin the team before they travel to Orlando, Florida next week.

"This was the biggest team win since I have been coaching," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "I looked on the floor at the beginning of the game and saw two freshmen and two sophomores. I am so proud of them today for pulling together."

White led all scorers with 19 points. She also pulled down eight rebounds in the contest. The Tupelo, Miss., native recorded a season-high six steals. "At the first of the game she looked like she needed to step up without LaToya, but then she became more focused as the game went along," Fanning said.

In the first 20 minutes the Maroon and White built up a seven-point lead, but the Fighting Illini evened the score at 30-30 heading in to the intermission. In a back and fourth second half, both teams shot the ball well. They both shot 46 percent from the field in the final half.

State (6-1) received great help from the bench. The Lady ‘Dogs had 23 points from the bench. 15 of the 23 points came from freshman Doceide Warren, who made her MSU debut Saturday. Warren was 5-6 from the field and 4-6 from the charity stripe. She was key in the last three minutes of the game, scoring two baskets and knocking down two free throws. Tiffany Burton added eight points and five rebounds off the bench as well.

"Doceide did a great job of contributing in her first collegiate game," added Fanning.

Mamie McKinney, who started in place of Thomas, was also in double figures. McKinney had 10 points in her 26 minutes of play. Freshman Blessing Chekwa added eight points, while Renea Jones contributed seven.

Illinois (6-2) put two players in double-digits in the scoring column. Cindy Dallas led the Blue and Orange with 17 points while senior Karen Hagberg poured in 16 points.

The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Orlando, Florida next Thursday, December 19th to participate in the University of Central Florida Holiday Classic. MSU will take on the Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman at 2 p.m. CT. They will close out the classic on Friday, December 20th; they will face off with host Central Florida at 4 p.m. CT at UCF Arena. Both games can be heard on 107.9 WFCA-FM.

"We are learning to be road warriors. Bethune-Cookman is another great match-up for us. They are going to take the ball to us," Fanning mentioned. "Central Florida is a fundamentally sound basketball team as well."

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