Lady 'Dogs Clinch 4th Seed With Win Over Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. -­ It was a day of firsts for the 11th-ranked Lady Bulldogs with their 65-56 win over the Auburn Lady Tigers. The nine-point win at Beard Eaves memorial Coliseum was the first for MSU since 1979. State also wrapped up the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the 2003 Southeastern Conference Women's Tournament next week in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Lady 'Dogs overcame a seven-point deficit midway through the second half. Auburn took their largest lead at 41-34 with 13:03 left to play. MSU pulled within a point at 43-42 with 10:32 on the clock on Doceide Warren's jumper. The Maroon and White took its first lead of the second half on Jessica Carter's three-pointer with 9:30 remaining. Carter ignited a struggling State offense. She hit three consecutive treys to push MSU's lead to 48-43 with 8:24 left in the final half.

"Most defenses focus on LaToya (Thomas) and other girls," said Jessica Carter. "That allowed me to come in and hit those shots because the defense wasn't picking me up."

The Lady 'Dogs took their largest lead of the game at 12-points with 3:39 left. They out-scored the Lady Tigers 20-13 in the final nine minutes.

"Jessica (Carter) came off the bench to give us a spark," said head coach Sharon Fanning. "We looked like a different team down the stretch."

Auburn took a one-point advantage in to the locker room at 29-28. MSU was cold from the field, hitting just 10-of-33 from the field. They were 0-for-7 from tree-point land, State was 0-for-11 before Warren hit the Lady 'Dogs first trey. The game went back and fourth in the first 20 minutes with eight lead changes and nine ties.

"We played passive at times and then we would attack," said Fanning. "We found a way to win with our players on the floor."

LaToya Thomas led the way for the Lady 'Dogs, registering her 45th career double-double. The senior from Greenville, Miss. finished with a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. Warren was the only other MSU player to record double figures in scoring. She came off the bench for 13 points in 30 minutes played. Carter had a season-high nine points. Tan White and Blessing Ckekwa both added eight points.

"I am proud of our team and the way we played. It was a huge road win and a big step for our program," said Fanning. State finished the regular-season winning six straight.

Nicole Louden and Mandisa Stevenson led the Lady Tigers in scoring. Louden and Mandisa both finished with 10 points. AU's leading scorer, Natasha Brackett, was held to just nine points.

State will play the winner of the South Carolina/Mississippi game on Friday at 6 p.m. in the second round of the 2003 Women's SEC Tournament at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, Ark.


  • With her 21 points LaToya Thomas moves in to ninth-place on the NCAA's all-time scorers chart, surpassing Sandra Hodge of New Orleans (1984). Thomas' seven free throws made she tied the all-time SEC career free throws made chart with Wendy Scholtens of Vanderbilt (1988-84).
  • The 22 wins in the regular season are also a school-best. State's best record was during the 1999-2000 with a 24-8 final record.

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