News from MSU Media Relations--February 15th

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

Men's Golf
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The Mississippi State men's golf team stands in 11th place after two rounds of play on Saturday at the SunTrust Gator Invitational. The Bulldogs notched a 290 in the first round as a team to finish in a tie for 12th place. The team improved one spot into 11th place with a second round 287 and is 17-over-par through two rounds of play.

"The scoring conditions were good today we just didn't take advantage of them," said head coach Clay Homan. "We are playing great from tee to green. We just aren't getting enough birdies."

Senior Josh Bevell currently leads the team with a 1-over-par 141 and is in a tie for 14th in the individual field. Senior Matt Fast trails Bevell by three strokes with consistent rounds of 72 and 72 and is tied for 37th among the individuals. Fellow senior Noah Goldman is at 6-over-par through two rounds with back-to-back rounds of 73. Seniors Carlos Sainz, Jr. and Brian Mason sit at 8-over-par. Sainz had rounds of 73 and 75 whereas Mason posted rounds of 75 and 73.

Host school Florida leads the field with a 15-under-par performance through the first two rounds. Ole Miss is in second place with 5-under-par followed by Duke at 3-over-par.

Mississippi State will resume play Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET on the 10th tee.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The 52nd-ranked Mississippi State men's tennis team will host their home opener this Sunday against the #75 UAB Blazers at 1 p.m. at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre on the MSU campus. Admission is free to all MSU home tennis matches.

"We are excited to be back at home for the spring season," said head coach Per Nilsson. "UAB has a much improved team and we will have to be ready to battle on Sunday."

The Bulldogs, who are 1-2 this season, are coming off a tough loss against their in-state rivals, the ninth-ranked Ole Miss Rebels, 4-2, at the 12th annual River Hills Cup in Jackson, Miss. - a match that lasted over five hours before finally being decided.

The Bulldogs' only two losses this season have come against opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally, with Ole Miss ranked ninth and Southern Cal at sixth. State also notched a win over then-49th-ranked Saint Mary's on a neutral court, shutting out the Gaels 4-0 during the ITA Kickoff Weekend in Los Angeles, Calif.

State is led by senior Ryan Farlow, who notched one of the biggest wins of his career against the Rebels, upsetting freshman prodigy Devin Britton in a three-set battle in Jackson. Sophomore Antonio Lastre is off to a great start for MSU this season at 3-0 in singles. Lastre and freshman doubles partner Daniel Sanchez are 3-0 in doubles as well.

The Blazers boast the 29th-ranked doubles team in the country with Brain Ly and Alex Emery and will be looking for their first SEC opponent win of the season after losing to Auburn and Alabama. MSU also opened up the home season last year against UAB taking the match 4-1. MSU will be looking for their 16th straight win over the Blazers and are 22-1 all-time against their opponent from Birmingham, Ala.

Live stats will be available at

Women's Tennis
NEW ORLEANS, La. - For the first time since the 2005 season, the Mississippi State women's tennis team has started a year 5-0, after the Lady Bulldogs finished off Tulane, 6-1, Saturday in New Orleans, La. The match, which started outdoors on the Tulane campus, was suspended until Saturday due to rain and moved indoors Saturday morning after the Lady Bulldogs had already built up a 3-0 lead on Friday.

State started the contest Friday looking to continue their streak of doubles victories and hoping to win the doubles point for the fifth straight time this season. They would meet little resistance in accomplishing that feat, as they picked up two quick victories to take the point. The senior duo of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers ousted the Tulane pair of Caroline Gerber and Jessica Lange 8-1 at position No. 2.

With one court in the victory column for MSU, Radka Ferancova and Daniela Juskova picked up where they left off last week to power past the Green Wave's tandem of Marcela Fonseca and Sharon Seigel 8-2 at No. 3, clinching the doubles point. The MSU rookie pair of Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvinteva battled back and forth at the top spot with Tulane's Elizabeth Hamlin and Marion Kurdadze, eventually losing the match in a tight 8-7(4) affair.

After getting the doubles point in hand, the Lady Bulldogs would need three singles victories to clinch the match. They jumped out early on Tulane, winning the first set 6-0 on courts two and six, while also taking the first set on courts three and five.

Junior Valeriya Makarycheva continued her impressive play of late, picking up State's first singles victory in straight sets, 6-0, 6-4 at position No. 6 over Seigel. Following her lead, the freshman Tsigvintseva dominated in a 6-0, 6-1 triumph on court No. 2, downing the Green Wave's Hamlin. With the two quick victories, the Lady Bulldogs needed just one more court to come away with the win.

MSU would have to wait on that match-clinching triumph, however, as play was delayed overnight due to rain. Play finally resumed at 10 a.m. CT Saturday, with State one point away from taking the match. The Lady Bulldogs quickly picked up the victory in the first contest complete, as Ferancova ousted Marcela Fonseca 6-1, 6-3 at No. 3. That win gave MSU the team victory.

Although State had taken the match, the two teams did finish out all matches. On court #1, State's Banikova dropped a 6-3, 6-2 decision to TU's Kurdadze. In the final match of the day, de Villiers of MSU battled back for a 4-6, 6-3, 1-0 (7) victory.

Looking to remain undefeated, the Lady Bulldogs will next square off with 56th-ranked South Alabama this Sunday at 11 a.m. CT in Mobile, Ala.

Women's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Coming off a 16-point road win over Ole Miss on Thursday, the Mississippi State women's basketball team returns home Sunday to face fourth-ranked Auburn in the annual "Pink Zone" game in which everyone is encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Humphrey Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs (19-6, 6-4 SEC), have won three straight and four of their last five. The 19-6 start matches the second best start in school history matching the 2002-03 squad who reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Mississippi State is led in scoring by junior guard Alexis Rack who is fifth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring, averaging 14.3 points a game. Rack has scored in double figures in six consecutive games and is coming off a 21-point performance against Ole Miss on Thursday.

Junior Armelie Lumanu is averaging 11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game. Senior Robin Porter paces MSU in rebounding, pulling down 6.6 a game.

Auburn, ranked as high as fourth in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, enters Sunday's game with a 24-1 overall record. The Tigers are 9-1 in SEC play, including a 4-1 mark on the road. Auburn is led by All-American DeWanna Bonner who is averaging 20.8 points and 8.6 rebounds a game. Sophomore guard Alli Smalley is averaging 12.6 points a game while guard Whitney Boddie leads the SEC in assists, dishing out 8.3 a game.

Auburn leads the all-time series 29-12 and have won the last three meetings. Mississippi State's last win came in 2005 when State beat Auburn 75-68 in an overtime game in Starkville.

The WBCA began the Pink Zone, formerly know as "Think Pink", in 2007 as an initiative to raise breast cancer awareness in women's basketball on campus and in communities. In its second year last year, over 1,200 teams and organizations participated, reaching over 830,000 fans and raising over $930,00 for breast cancer awareness and research.

In accordance with the "Pink Zone" game, sponsors include the Center for Breast Health and Imaging, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority who will be handing out pink ribbons and the MSU President's Commission on the Status of Women who will provide headbands, wristbands and shoelaces to the players.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Freshman Courtney Moore drove in a pair of runs, and Kelsey Nurnberg and Lindsey Dunlap combined for a shutout as the Mississippi State softball team knocked off Miami (Ohio) 3-0 Saturday night in the Sunshine Classic hosted by Florida State.

State moved to 5-2 overall in a game that was delayed nearly five hours due to heavy rains in the Tallahassee area. The late start to the day's action caused the Bulldogs' nightcap with Appalachian State to be cancelled. State will close out play against the host Seminoles Sunday at 12:30 p.m. CST.

Moore, the rookie out of El Sobrante, Calif., went 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. Junior Chelsea Bramlett scored all three of State's runs in the contest.

"We got some timely hits and some big RBIs from Courtney Moore tonight," said Bulldog head coach Jay Miller, who became the school's all-time winningest coach Friday night in an upset of No. 23 Purdue. "Chelsea got on base and made some things happen with her speed. I was very pleased with the way we gave ourselves a cushion as the game went on."

Nurnberg picked up the win to improve to 3-0 overall. The Ankeny, Iowa, senior struck out four and scattered eight hits over six innings before giving way to Dunlap. The Hueytown, Ala., freshman fired a perfect seventh to earn her second save of the year.

"We played some good defense tonight," Miller said. "It was nice to see Kelsey in command from the first inning on, and Lindsey came in and blew it past them in the second inning. Overall, we had an excellent performance on the mound."

The Bulldogs took a lead they would not relinquish in the opening frame. Bramlett reached on an error, and after moving to second on a Jessie Spain sacrifice bunt, scored on Moore's line drive to left field.

Bramlett got Mississippi State started again in the third as she was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. After stealing second, she moved to third on an Ali Bainbridge groundout and extended the lead to 2-0 as Moore delivered a two-out bouncing ball that snuck through the middle of the infield.

Miami (1-2) threatened to cut into MSU's lead in the third. Jordan Mcelroy and Kat Russette led off the inning with consecutive singles. Two batters later, Daniela Torres drew a two-out walk that loaded the bases. Katie Osburn hit a ground ball that deflected off Nurnberg's glove and looked almost certain to plate the Redhawks' first run, but Nurnberg tracked down the ball and made a diving flip to first to get out of the bases-loaded jam unscathed.

State added its final run in the fifth as Bramlett walked to lead off the inning. Looking to sacrifice her to second, Spain reached on a fielding error by the Miami first baseman. A double steal put the two runners in scoring position, and Bramlett scored on a Bainbridge groundout to short.

Jessica Simpson suffered the loss for Miami (Ohio) in her first decision of the year. She allowed the three runs, two earned, on four hits with six strikeouts in the complete-game effort. Russette and Sarah Billstrom paced the Redhawks with a pair of hits apiece.

Women's Track and Field
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.- Mississippi State's women's track squad finished competition at the Arkansas Tyson Invitational Saturday by placing two top five finishes in the MSU record books.

MSU's 4x400-meter relay team ran a time of 3:47.04, which earned a spot among State's all-time best. The relay team of LaQuinta Aaron, Diamond Marks, Marrissa Harris and Crystal Wilson ran the fourth-best time in MSU history.

Wendy Copeland, along with teammate Priscilla Gaines, earned spots on the superlatives list in the long jump. Copeland earned fourth place on the list with a jump of 19 feet, 8 ¼ inches, while Gaines earned fifth with a jump of 19 feet, 2 ¾ inches.

"We are starting to get some consistency from the older kids," said assistant coach Brian Fetzer. "The Tyson Invitational is one of the best meets in the country and it gave us a feel for what the SEC Championship will be like in two weeks. Loren ran a personal best in the 5000-meter run and Simone ran well in the 3000-meter run. Overall, we did well, especially with two marks for the all-time superlatives list."

State's distance medley relay squad, consisting of Dominique Lockhart, Candice Polk, Chelsea Rae Smyth and Renee Masterson, ran a time of 12:06.48.

The Lady Bulldogs will return to action at the SEC Indoor Track and Field Championships in Lexington, Ky., on Feb. 27-28.

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