No. 25 Lady Bulldogs Thrash No. 20 Maryland

STARKVILLE, Miss. - In its first true test of the young season, the 25th-ranked Mississippi State women's basketball team passed with flying colors, routing 20th-ranked Maryland 84-55 Sunday afternoon inside the Humphrey Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs complete a season-opening, four-game homestand with four victories. Each win was by at least 29 points. In its first contest against a ranked opponent, the Lady Bulldogs again led from start to finish in a contest that was never in doubt.

The victory made amends for Maryland's 80-73 victory last season in College Park.

The hosts broke a 2-2 tie with a spirited 15-1 run, much to the delight of the season-high 3,042 in attendance. Once establishing the double-digit advantage, the Lady Terps got no closer than nine points (at 17-8) for the remainder of the contest.

"It was a complete team effort," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "I am proud of the tenacity, energy and focus level we displayed tonight. It was a 40-minute effort. It is the type of mindset that you need to take the floor with to be successful in our league."

MSU senior guard Alexis Rack capped a monster night going for a career-high 43 points. For MSU, it was its 11th-ever 40-plus point game for an individual player. Rack's performance ranks tied for fourth all-time in the MSU record books.

"This was a big win for our team," Rack said. "However, we can't stop working. This week is going to be a very big challenge for us. This was the first of four real important games for this team. However, you could see us working together as a team today. When we play defense and make shots, we have a chance to be successful."

Behind 51-percent shooting in the opening half, the Lady Bulldogs sprinted to a 48-25 halftime advantage. In the final half, the lead grew to as many as 32 once and 30 on five different occasions.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 31 of 70 shots from the field (44.3 percent), 10 of 26 shots from 3-point range (38.5 percent) and 12 of 20 shots from the foul line (60.0 percent). The Lady Terps hit 16 of 52 shots from the field (30.8 percent), 5 of 21 shots from 3-point range (23.8) and 18 of 24 shots from the foul line (75.0 percent).

MSU had 21 assists and 15 turnovers, while UM had four assists and 28 turnovers. The Lady Bulldogs have now forced 21 or more turnovers in each of their first four victories.

For MSU, Mary Kathryn Govero had 12 points, while Chanel Mokango just missed a double double with nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Maryland received a team-high nine points and team-high 12 rebounds from Lynetta Kizer. Teammate Jackie Nared also had nine points and 10 rebounds - all on the defensive end.

The Lady Bulldogs now hit the road for their first competition of the season, playing three games in as many nights in the Paradise Jam Tournament in the Virgin Islands. MSU plays Texas at 7:30 p.m. CT on Thanksgiving night. The balance of the tournament schedules includes Rutgers at 5 p.m. CT Friday and Southern Cal at 5 p.m. CT Saturday.

Back in the Humphrey Coliseum, MSU hosts in-state rival Southern Miss at 7 p.m., Wednesday, December 2.

Official Stats

Sharon Fanning-Otis Video Interview

Players Video Interviews

Coaches and Players Quotes

Mississippi State Sharon Fanning-Otis Quotes:

Opening Comments...

This was a great team win. Obviously with Rack's 43 points there were only two players in double figures but we had Grimes with eight points and Chanel (Mokango) coming off the bench with 9 points. I thought that as a team we took what was there. I thought there were some great screens for Alexis. Rima (Kalonda) came up with some screens and Alexis took what she had. The thing about Alexis' 43 points was that they were three point shots, jump shots, layups, and they were by drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. Alexis had a positive assist-to-turnover ratio, she had steals, and she had great focus and intensity and it was a statement game for her. We need that kind of effort and focus because it leads to great leadership out there. As far as the rest of the team as a whole, we played together, as a team. We had a few mental mistakes and we were a bit complacent with the ball going to the wrong place. We had a couple of quick shots relative to great shots but for the most part, I think we were taking great shots and seeing each other well. In the first half what got us going was defensive. We rebounded the basketball, I would like to see a bigger margin, but considering their size, I think we did a good job and played hard as a team.

On this being a statement game...

If you get ranked, you want to know how to move up. You don't just want to get in and get out for a week or let your play go down. This was a test that we had to step up to and the team responded. You now get ready for three more tests and they are more difficult tests because there is more experience on the floor. You are playing a team that you beat in the (NCAA) tournament so there is a lot of motivation. There are a lot of things that go into your next basketball games. Each time what I say going in and out of the locker room is do what we do, better. If we don't continue to improve then we aren't going to win the ball games but if we do, we have a chance of winning any game we play and that is what you want to do. You want to give yourself a chance to win and you should expect to win and then it will fall how it is going to fall. With that, it begins with defense, goes to rebounding, and then it goes to taking great shots. The next team is not going to play like the last team, they are all going to be different. That is why I am saying the importance of Alexis' game was that it was not one dimensional. If you are only able to do one thing a lot of the time, the team will be able to stop that one thing. I thought that we played great team basketball, we were looking to make the next pass.

Mississippi State Player Quotes:

Alexis Rack; Senior Guard

On tonight's performance...

I was in the zone tonight, but I think that any one of our players could have had a night like I did tonight. I felt that I and the girls had a good night.

On LaToya Thomas in the audience...

Her presence is always great to have in the crowd. Her being there was a big help to our win tonight.

Mary Kathryn Govero; Forward

On Prepping for Maryland...

We all knew that we had to focus on 40 minutes of play tonight, but we also knew that we had something to prove to ourselves and our fans in order to beat Maryland. Going in tonight's game, we knew we had the talent to beat them and win the game tonight, we just did not know we would beat them by almost 30 points.

Chanel Mokango; Senior Center

On her position of play...

The team and I played with high energy today and that is what helped us win tonight.

University of Maryland Head Coach Brenda Frese Quotes:

Opening Comments...

Obviously, all of the credit goes to Mississippi State. I thought they came out very inspired and ready to play. I thought that their momentum in the first 10 minutes of the game kind of buried us. We had no answer for [Alexis] Rack tonight. She came out and played like an All-American tonight, one of the best in the country. Her ability to shoot and get to the rim really hurt us. We have a really young team though. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing and this is a great lesson for them. This was our first road test of the season and we just have to bounce back from it.

On MSU's Overall Team This Season...

They have a lot of athleticism and length on their team. They also play really hard, and they play with a lot of poise and confidence. I think they have eight seniors on their team, so obviously they are not going to get rattled. They have a lot of veterans on that team and they know what they are doing. They are a very exciting team to watch, I just wish we did not have to be on the other end tonight.

On MSU's Defense Tonight...

You have to give all of the credit to the MSU defense tonight. I felt like they rushed us into a lot of quick shots. They used their athleticism and speed on defense. Once again though, we have a very young team. I looked up once and I think we had five freshman on the floor.

On Maryland's Size Advantage...

I do like our size and length. We are just really young. We just need more experience and more repetitions. It takes time for a young team like this. We are only four games in to the season and this was our first road test.

Maryland Player Quotes:

Tianna Hawkins FR. F

On MSU's Overall Play Today...

I thought they were really long and athletic. They obviously came ready to play today and that is what we have to do on the other side.

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