Lady Bulldogs Knock Off No. 21 Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mississippi State bounced back into the win column in grand fashion, upsetting No. 21 Vanderbilt 65-56 in a Southeastern Conference women's basketball game played Sunday in Memorial Gymnasium.

The Lady Bulldogs made snapped a modest two-game losing streak while winning in Vanderbilt's home arena for the first since 1981. MSU had lost 13 straight times in Memorial and now have two all-time victories here. MSU knocked off Vanderbilt 90-76 two weeks ago in Starkville. By completing the season sweep, the Lady Bulldogs run their series win streak to three games, a mark not seen since three straight wins against VU in 1978 and 1979 combined.

M-State improved to 13-7 overall and 4-3 in league play, thanks to a third league road win. Vanderbilt fell to 14-6 and 3-4, much to the disappointment of a season-high 5,809 in attendance. MSU is the first team to win three conference road games this season.

"It was a great team effort," MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "Everyone who was dressed today gave all of their heart to make this win happen. It was a great win team win in a very hostile environment. This team has always remained positive and kept working hard. That is why we were successful today."

Vanderbilt started strong, rolling out to a 10-2 advantage less than seven minutes into the contest. The Lady Bulldogs battled back, eventually forcing a 14-14 tie on a layup by Alexis Rack with 8:42 left before halftime.

Rack also scored on the next possession and the Commodores never enjoyed another lead in the contest. MSU ran the half out with a 25-14 run to take a 27-24 lead into the intermission.

"If you look at the statistics, they were really kicking us on the boards early," Fanning-Otis said. "We were able to even that up and were only out-rebounded by one. We also forced 21 turnovers by a team usually real good at taking care of the basketball. Our defensive effort and our ability to rebound were the keys in the second half."

MSU scored the first six points of the second half to run the advantage to 33-24 with 17:35 remaining. Vandy then sparked home crowd by answering with a 12-3 run for a 36-36 tie with 13:55 remaining.

From there, Rack and Armelie Lumanu took matters into their own hands. Rack broke the tie with the second of her three 3-point baskets in the game. After a steal and layup by Lumanu, Rack ran the advantage to 45-38 on her final 3-point basket.

The Commodoroes cut the deficit to 47-45 before back-to-back baskets by MSU's Chanel Mokango ran the lead back out to 51-45. VU cut the lead back to two before MSU's Mary Kathryn Govero sank a 17-footer as the shot clock expired with 2:04 left in regulation.

The Lady Bulldogs hit 9 of 10 free throws in the final two minutes to close out the victory.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 26 of 64 shots from the field (40.6 percent), 3 of 11 shots from 3-point range (27.3 percent) and 10 of 16 shots from the foul line (62.5 percent). The Commodores hit 22 of 56 shots from the field (39.3 percent), 3 of 14 shots from 3-point range (21.4 percent) and 9 of 11 shots from the foul line (81.8 percent).

VU held a 40-39 rebounding advantage. MSU had 14 assists and 14 turnovers, while VU had eight assists and 21 turnovers.

Mokango matched a season high with 19 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs. Rack added 17 points and five assists, while Lumanu had 12 points, a team-high eight rebounds and five assists as well. Mokango had three blocked shots.

VU received 20 points from Jence Rhoads and 11 points from Merideth Marsh.

M-State returns home Thursday night to host eighth-ranked Georgia. The SEC's Battle of the Bulldogs will tip at 8 p.m. and will be televised regionally by Fox Sports Net South. After that, MSU hosts Kentucky at 2 p.m. next Sunday in the Humphrey Coliseum.

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