Lady Bulldogs Return to Win Column

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State shot a season-best 56.7 percent from the floor as the Lady Bulldogs routed Alabama-Birmingham 87-46 in women's basketball action Friday night in the Humphrey Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs converted 34 of 60 field goal attempts to take a second straight win from the Blazers. MSU improved to 12-1 overall and 7-0 in Humphrey Coliseum. The Lady Bulldogs have now beaten four Conference USA opponents this season. UAB dropped to 5-8.

MSU played for the first time since its suffering its first defeat of the year - an 80-73 setback at 11th-ranked Maryland. That win snapped a school-record, season-opening 11-game win streak. The Lady Bulldogs removed all doubt Friday night, erasing a 10-4 deficit with a game-clinching 29-3 run.

"It felt really good to be able to play again," MSU junior guard Alexis Rack said. "We had some missed opportunities in our last game. We almost have everybody back (from injury and illness) and are really looking forward to Sunday's game (versus Xavier) and then the start of (Southeastern Conference) play."

Rack paced the Lady Bulldogs efforts Friday night with the first double-double of her standout career. The Franklin, La., native had 19 points, including five 3-point baskets and also dished out a career-high 10 assists.

An Armelie Lumanu layup helped MSU pull even at 12-12. The lead grew quickly as the 29-3 run meant a 33-13 advantage with 5:18 left before halftime. That run was highlighted by three different 3-point baskets from Rack. MSU kept building that lead and eventually led 47-21 at the intermission.

"When the game started, we were a little too tight defensively," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning said. "After we made shots, we got things going on the defensive end. We forced a lot of turnovers and did a good job of contesting shots in general."

The Lady Bulldogs shot 50 percent or better for the third time this season. MSU hit 7 of 14 shots from 3-point range (50.0 percent) and 12 of 20 from the foul line (60.0 percent). UAB had a much better final half but still finished 16 of 56 from the field (28.6 percent), 7 of 19 from 3-point range (36.8 percent) and 7 of 13 from the foul line (53.8 percent).

MSU held a 47-27 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 21 assists and 18 turnovers, while UAB had five assists and made 19 turnovers.

MSU placed five players in double figures. After Rack's career night, Robin Porter followed with 14 points, Lumanu scored 12 points, Chanel Mokango had 11 points and Diamber Johnson scored 10 points. Mary Kathryn Govero and Rima Kalonda each had a team-high eight rebounds.

Britney Jones paced UAB with 15 points. Tamika Dukes had a team-high six rebounds for the Blazers.

The Lady Bulldogs return to action Sunday with a 2 p.m. home game against Xavier. The Atlantic 10-based Musketeers are 11-4 overall. Xavier already has three wins against Southeastern Conference competition, having beaten Georgia and LSU on the road and Kentucky at home.


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