News from MSU Media Relations--March 7

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

Men's Basketball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Fresh off its impressive win against Florida on Wednesday night, Mississippi State travels to in-state rival Ole Miss on Saturday to conclude regular-season play.

Tipoff at Tad Smith Coliseum is slated for 4 p.m.

Earlier this year at Humphrey Coliseum, the Rebels shocked the Bulldogs 67-63 and are now looking to sweep MSU for the first time since 1998, while MState (18-12, 8-7) is looking for its first win in Oxford since January of 2005.

In addition to bragging rights, both teams enter the contest vying for better positioning in the Western Division standings. If the Bulldogs prevail, they'll claim the No. 3 seed in preparation for next week's SEC Tournament in Tampa, Fla. If the Rebels win, they'll get the three seed and MSU will grab the fourth seed.

As for MSU, it's 8-2 in regular-season finales under Rick Stansbury, including last year's 84-75 win at home against LSU. Stansbury is also 15-7 against the Rebels only once has lost three straight in this series.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team gave the visiting fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers all they could handle Friday afternoon, before Tennessee ultimately took the match 5-2 in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams before a rowdy crowd at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre. The contest featured two three-set affairs and two tiebreakers.

MSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead after claiming the doubles point for their fourth straight match. The rookie tandem of Louis Cant and Artem Ilyushin got things started on the right track for the Bulldogs at the No. 3 spot with their 8-5 handling of Tennessee's Matt Brewer and Christopher Williams. Following suit at the No. 2 position was State's undefeated duo of sophomore Antonio Lastre and freshman Daniel Sanchez, who remained unbeaten by downing Volunteers Matteo Fago and Christian Hansen, 8-4. At No. 1, Tennessee's ninth-ranked tandem of John-Patrick Smith and Davey Sandgren were able to avoid the sweep by taking down Bulldogs Chris Doerr and Tanner Stump in a close 8-6 decision.

Singles play was very close throughout with critical points being played on nearly every court at some point during the match. Evening things up at 1-1 was UT's 10th ranked Smith, who completed a two-set bout over 118th-ranked senior Bulldog Ryan Farlow 6-2, 6-3 at the top spot. Doerr pushed the Bulldogs back on top, working hard to claim his win over Christopher Williams at the No. 6 spot, 6-4, 6-1.

With things tightening up considerably, Fago of UT was able to take down the MSU freshman Ilyushin in identical sets, 6-3, 6-3, at No. 3 to knot the score at 2-2. That left three very close contests on the court to decide the match.

State's Cant dropped back-to-back tiebreakers to the Vols' Brewer, in a very tough 7-6(11), 7-6(3) setback to give Tennessee the lead at 3-2.

The final two matches of the day would be forced to third sets by Bulldogs Sanchez and Lastre, each trailing by a set early. Hansen would finally clinch the team win for UT at the No. 4 position in a three-set bout against Lastre, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. To conclude scoring, Sandgren of Tennessee claimed a three-setter over Sanchez, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, snapping a three-match win streak for the MSU freshman.

"We should have won that match. We have to start focusing on key points and winning the close sets," said head coach Per Nilsson. "The crowd was unbelievable and a major advantage for us. We hope the keep that going Sunday against another great team in Georgia, as well as throughout the rest of the season."

MSU will look to rebound this Sunday, March 8, at 1 p.m. when the Bulldogs host another top 5 opponent in Georgia, who stands fourth nationally. UGA (11-2, 0-1 SEC) is fresh off a tough road loss to 10th-ranked Ole Miss, 4-3, Friday.


Women's Tennis
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi State's 57th-ranked women's tennis team (8-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) dropped its first match of the season Friday in a 5-2 loss at No. 12 Tennessee (7-1, 1-0).

It was a shaky start to the day early on for MSU in doubles, as the opening point fell in Tennessee's favor. State's Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvintseva dropped an 8-3 decision to UT's Caitlin Whoriskey and Natalie Pluskota at the top spot. Courts 2 and 3 were a bit tighter. At No. 3, the Lady Bulldog pair of Radka Ferancova and Daniela Juskova fell to the Volunteer pair of Jennifer Meredith and Zsofia Zubor 8-5. State's team of Martina Banikova and Elna de Villiers salvaged an 8-7 win at the No. 2 spot, downing Maria Sorbello and Samantha Orlin.

Down 1-0, Mississippi State looked to singles to try and upend the Lady Vols, but Tennessee quickly put away the Lady Bulldogs, winning the first four matches complete to seal the affair.

At position No. 2, Tennessee built up their lead when MSU freshman Tsigvintseva fell 6-1, 6-1 to UT's Pluskota. Playing at the No. 3 spot, MSU's Ferancova looked to remain undefeated in dual match play, but fell short in a 6-0, 6-3 setback to Samantha Orlin of the Lady Vols, ending Ferancova's eight-match singles winning streak.

The clinching match for UT came from the No. 5 spot where Meredith bested MSU's Mayuk 6-0, 6-3. State's Banikova then fell to the 57th-ranked Whoriskey 6-3, 6-2 at the top spot for a 5-0 advantage for the Vols.

MSU would conclude the day well, picking up victories in the last two contests of the afternoon. Junior Valeriya Makarycheva pushed her personal match winning streak to six in an impressive 6-3, 7-6 triumph over UT's Zubor at the No. 6 position. De Villiers gave State its last point of the day, edging Tennessee's Rosalia Alda 7-5, 4-6, 1-0.

Next up, the Lady Bulldogs travel to Athens, Ga., to take on the second-ranked Georgia Bulldogs Sunday afternoon. The battle between State and UGA is slated for a Noon CT start.


Men's Golf
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The 67th-ranked Mississippi State men's golf team is in a tie for fourth place through the first round at the Seminole Intercollegiate in Tallahassee, Fla. The Bulldogs fired a 4-over-par 292 in 18 holes of play at the par-72 Golden Eagle Country Club Friday.

"We are in a good spot going into the weekend," said head coach Clay Homan. "We need to be a little more consistent on the greens."

Senior Noah Goldman led the way for MState carding a 2-under-par 70 in round one and sits in a tie for fifth place. The Longwood, Fla., native hit every green in regulation and had only one hole above par, with a bogey on hole 7. Senior Carlos Sainz, Jr. is in a tie for seventh, finishing with a 1-under-par round after 18 holes of play which included five birdies. Senior Brian Mason notched a 2-over-par 74 in round one, including an even par for his first nine holes. Senior Josh Bevell is 5-over-par through round one followed by fellow Bulldog Matt Fast who shot an 80 in round one.

"Noah (Goldman) had a solid first round and was very consistent today," said Homan. "Carlos (Sainz, Jr.) showed consistency too and really helped us out with his play today."

Ole Miss is in first place at even par, followed by Virginia at 1-over-par. Vanderbilt sits in third with a 2-over-par while Mississippi State is tied with host Florida State at 4-over-par.

Play will resume tomorrow at 12 p.m. EST. Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.


Softball
HONOLULU, Hawaii – A 10-run third inning lifted the No. 25 Mississippi State softball team to a 14-11 win over host Hawaii and a split of Friday's action at the Pepsi Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in Honolulu. The day's games were a tale of opposites as the Bulldogs fell 2-0 to Oregon State in a pitcher's duel earlier in the afternoon.

Chelsea Bramlett went 2-for-5 with three runs scored in the nightcap. The junior from Cordova, Tenn., went 3-for-3 against OSU to finish the day 5-for-8.

Sophomores Ali Bainbridge and Courtney Nesbit added two doubles each against the Rainbow Wahine (8-12) as head coach Jay Miller's squad matched a school record with five two-baggers in the game. Bainbridge drove in a career-high four RBI as the Bulldogs (13-5) scored their most runs in a game since plating 19 against Charleston Southern on Mar. 7, 2009.

Sophomore Brittany Bell's lone hit of the day was a big one, as she hit her second home run of the year, a three-run shot in the decisive third. Freshman Ka'ili Smith, a Kapolei native, continued her impressive return to her home state, adding two more hits Friday evening after notching a trio of doubles on Thursday.

"We had some people step up and drive in some runs for us against Hawaii after not being able to get a run across in the first game," Miller said. "Brittany Bell had a big home run, and Ka'ili Smith drove in a big run for us late in the game. We're still looking for some consistency, but hopefully we can settle down and finish the weekend strong."

State struck with a run in the first as Bramlett reached on the first of six Rainbow Wahine errors in the game. After stealing second, she scored on a Bainbridge double to left-center.

The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 11-0 as they pounded out seven hits and took advantage of three UH errors. Bramlett led off with a bunt single, and she took second on an errant throw by the first baseman. Allie Heon advanced her to third with a sacrifice bunt, and Bramlett made it a 3-0 game as she beat the throw home on a Bainbridge ground ball to short.

Courtney Moore followed with a ground ball back to UH starting pitcher Stephanie Ricketts, but Bainbridge was safe at second as Ricketts' throw sailed into center field. Nesbit pushed the MState lead to 4-0 with a double to center that scored Bainbridge from second base.

Moore, who took third on Nesbit's double, made it a 5-0 game as she scored on a Jessie Bailey single through the left side of the infield. Freshman Ka'ili Smith continued her outstanding homecoming, driving in Nesbit to extend the lead to 6-0. Bell then cleared the bases as she took a Ricketts offering over the fence in right for a 9-0 MSU lead.

The home run chased Ricketts from the game, but the Bulldogs tacked on the final two runs as Bainbridge doubled home Brittany Gates and Allie Heon after they were hit by a pitch and reached on an error, respectively.

Hawaii rallied, however, answering with four runs in the third and fourth behind a pair of home runs to cut the MSU lead to 11-8.

State pushed the lead back out to a five-run advantage with a pair of runs in the sixth. Nesbit sparked the frame with a one-out double. After moving to third on a Jessie Bailey single to left, pinch-runner Jessie Spain scored as Smith lined a single through the left side. Bailey, who took second on the base hit, took third on the Smith single and scored as the ball was misplayed by the Hawaii left fielder.

Makani Duhaylonsod, who drove in four runs in the game, added UH's final three runs with a three-run shot to over the wall in left off Lindsey Dunlap, State's third pitcher in the game.

Kelsey Nurnberg, State's starter in the contest, returned in the sixth and retired six of the last eight hitters she faced to seal her win and move to 8-0 on the year. Nurnberg, who left after the first two innings, allowed four runs on five hits with four strikeouts over three and two-thirds innings.

"I was very pleased with the way Kelsey came back and shut them down after sitting around for a few innings," Miller said. "She was throwing hard when she came back. She threw it right past them, and that's a good sign for us."

Sophomore Elizabeth Woolven surrendered three runs and a pair of hits in an inning and one-third, while Dunlap tossed two innings, giving up four runs on five hits with three walks in her second appearance of the day.

The Bulldogs added their final run in the seventh as Bramlett beat-out a bunt single, stole second and scored on pinch-hitter Sammie Jo Bailey's single to center.

Ricketts suffered the loss to fall to 3-4 on the year. In two different stints in the game, Ricketts allowed 11 runs, eight earned, on 11 hits with nine strikeouts over six and one-thirds innings. Duhaylonsod tossed two-thirds of an inning, giving up three unearned runs on a pair of hits.

State's 14-run, 13-hit attack was a stark contrast from earlier in the day when Miller's squad was unable to muster a run on six hits against Oregon State (12-11).

Dunlap suffered the loss, her third straight, to fall to 5-3 on the year. The Hueytown, Ala., native went the distance, allowing two fourth-inning runs on six hits while striking out seven.

"Lindsey pitched a great game for us," Miller said. "We had some opportunities, but we needed someone to step up and drive in some runs."

Paige Hall tossed a six-hit shutout for OSU to move to 8-3 overall.

The Beavers' only runs of the game came in the fourth when Stefanie Ewing reached on a one-out single. Following an Erin Guzy strikeout, DeAnn Young walked and Nikki Chandler reached on an error to load the bases. Tarah Black hit a fly ball to center field that deflected off the glove of a diving Brittany Gates, scoring Ewing and Young with the game's only runs.

The Bulldogs had a chance to jump out to a first-inning lead. Bramlett led off with a single and advanced to second on a Heon base hit to right field. A Bainbridge fielder's choice moved Bramlett to third, but a pop-out and ground-out thwarted the opportunity.

Bramlett gave the Bulldogs another chance in the third as she lined a one-out double to center field. Hall worked out of the jam, however, getting a pair of ground-outs to end the inning.

MState will play a single game on Saturday, challenging Mount Saint Mary's at 3 p.m. CST.


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