Ladydogs Rout Pine Bluff In Opener 106-48

Daniel Rector, on a free throw, at 2:05. All of which served to answer the only serious questions posed prior to Mississippi State's contest with Arkansas-Pine Bluff. To wit, who would be the Lady Bulldog to score the 100th point, along with how and when the deed would be done.

The reserve center's charity toss did indeed push Mississippi State's women over the century as the coasted to a 106-48 victory in the season debut for both squads. Realistically the Bulldogs were on cruise control all evening, knocking out the first ten points and more than doubling the visitors at intermission, 50-24. Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis was free to play a round dozen Dogs prior to that halftime, and let the bench squad get plenty more minutes in the second period.

"It's always great to get started with a win," Fanning-Otis said. "I was pleased with the balance, with the points off the bench."

There were plenty of them to be pleased with as before the evening finally concluded every Bulldog taking the court made a shot of some sort. The scoring parade was paced by starting forward Tysheka Grimes with 22 points, one of five State players scoring double-figures. And, as Fanning noted, among the three Dogs that posted double-doubles as she added a dozen rebounds. Wing guard Mary Kathryn Govero had a game-best 13 rebounds to go with her dozen points, while forward Chanel Mokango had 11 points and boards each.

Guards Alexis Rack and Armelie Lumanu both had 16 points. Grimes, Rack, and Govero all had a trio of treys as well. Fanning actually thought her squad leaned on the long shot a bit more than necessary given how State over-matched UAPB around the goal. "I thought in the first half we were taking too many threes, we had people open to the bucket and needed to find them. But we did a good job in second half."

Laquisha Slaton came off the bench for ten points, the only Pine Bluff player in double-digits. As lopsided as the scoring looked, the boardwork was almost as impressive with a 71-43 margin. Pine Bluff ended up with 27 turnovers, compared to 15 field goals made, and much of that came from good Dog defense with 16 steals credited.

The evening played out much as a season-opener needed to, allowing State to give a lot of minutes to all sorts of lineups with sufficient execution. "We rotated 12 people and hopefully we continue to progress," Fanning-Otis said. "The motto is do what we do better and each game try to improve on that."

Bulldog guard Diamber Johnson made a different sort of statement for the opener as she wore the #25 jersey, which was supposed to belong to guard Marneshia Richard. The latter, a fifth-year senior, missed all last season rehabilitating a knee and was supposed to be a big factor this season. But she injured a knee ligament two weeks ago and is out for another year. Fanning-Otis isn't sure if Johnson will wear that number all season yet, but "It's something to be commended."

State is back in action against East Tennessee State on Sunday afternoon at 2:00.


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