Mississippi State - Armelie Lumanu didn't bring her normal intensity to the game. She only managed four points and five rebounds. She is the heart and soul of the team and the team normally goes as she goes. Lumanu didn't have a big game so the team didn't play up to their potential.
Auburn - Keke Carrier gave the Lady Bulldogs fits the whole night. She scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in reserve duty. I said in the preview if Carrier had a big day then it could be a long day for the Lady Bulldogs and that's exactly what happen.
"She is just a big girl. She was not really making her first shots but we kept letting her rebound her own shots," said MSU junior Mary Kathryn Govero. "She would miss the first one and tip the rebound to herself and kind of just push us around down there until she put it in. We did not do a good job of keeping her from rebounding the ball."
The Stats Don't Lie:
The stats didn't look the way I thought they would look by a longshot this game. There is no shock that the game was low-scoring with the poor shooting by both teams. The Lady Tigers shot 36.4 percent while the Lady Bulldogs shot 28.0 percent from the field.
"First of all I can't believe we held them to 36-points, because they are a very explosive offensive team," said Auburn head coach Nell Fortner. "That's impressive to me whether it is my team or not. I think our defense was disruptive. We played most of the first half in man defense, and we did a lot of switching and didn't give them a lot of air to shoot the ball. I thought we were very focused and determined on the defensive end today."
The second most glaring stat is the 18 turnovers the Lady Bulldogs had which resulted in 17 points for the Lady Tigers. The Lady Tigers also dominated bench scoring with 16, including Keke Carrier's 12 points. The Lady Bulldogs on the other hand didn't manage to score any points off the bench. The only category the Lady Bulldogs did well in was rebounding. They had 39 rebounds to the Lady Tigers' 35. The bottom line is the game stats showed lack of focus and execution on the Lady Bulldogs part.
This is a game that forced me to eat crow as I had no idea the Lady Tigers would beat the Lady Bulldogs as convincingly as they did. The handwriting was on the wall pretty much from the opening tip that an upset was brewing. The Lady Bulldogs simply came out lifeless and void of the intensity necessary to compete at a high level. Despite the lack of intensity, they still managed to be down by just three points at the half. I honestly expected the Lady Bulldogs to come out after a halftime pep talk from Coach Fanning-Otis and take control of the game. But that wasn't to be as the Lady Tigers eventually pulled away winning the game in a rout.
"It wasn't a surprise relative to the way that we have practiced," said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis. "I am surprised that we didn't have enough class and work ethic to get out there and strap it on the second half and pick it up. It was only a three point game at halftime. So hopefully after the first half you have gotten through all the senior stuff and you are ready to play. For our basketball team to win any basketball games we have to be on a string. I have to help you and you have to help me and I have to be in the right place at the right time and we were certainly not, offensively or defensively."
The Lady Bulldogs lost a game that they should not have lost, especially considering it was Senior Day. And it wouldn't surprise me if Coach Fanning-Otis probably has something special planned for the Lady Bulldogs in practice this week.
"It has not really hit me yet," said MSU senior Alexis Rack. "I was not really thinking about it. I was more worried about trying to finish the season strong. That is not how you want to finish your career at home. Coach mentioned that it could be a distraction but I did not really feel like it was."
Player of the Game:
Keke Carrier had a good game but Alli Smalley was the player of the game. Smalley, who scored 17 points and pulled down 5 rebounds, was one of main keys in pulling the unexpected victory.
Jeremiah Short is a columnist who covers various Mississippi State sports for GenesPage.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org