STARKVILLE - The future looks bright, but the lights went out early for the Ole Miss Lady Rebels tonight.
Playing catchup from the outset, the Lady Rebs fell behind early and never caught up in a 61-52 loss to Mississippi State.
"I was very disappointed that we didn't respond in a competitive way early," Ole Miss Coach Carol Ross said after her team fell to 16-8 on the season and 6-5 in Southeastern Conference action. "But as the head coach, it is my job to get them to play and to respond. They were more aggressive and we were less aggressive."
The tone Ross talked about was set early. State led right out of the blocks and it was 10-2 in the first four minutes as continued to expand its lead. It was 20-6 when MSU senior Tan White scored on a jumper, and when Doceide Warren scored on a layup the lead swelled to 30-9. The Lady Bulldogs led 35-15 at halftime.
The stats were heavy in State's favor at intermission. The Lady Rebels shot just 24 percent (6-of-25) in the first half and only a nice run late raised the percentage from what at one point was 16 percent. Ole Miss was 0-for-5 from 3-point range. MSU, meanwhile, shot 51 percent in the first half.
In the early moments of the second half, the Lady Bulldogs continued to overpower the visiting Lady Rebels. The lead swelled to 24 points on a couple of occasions before the Lady Rebels began to mount a comeback.
Senior Liz Cansdale added her hustle as she nailed some 3s and also caused some MSU turnovers. Her layup cut the deficit to 53-37 with 7:29 left.
When sophomore Armintie Price scored on a jumper with 3:13 to go to make it 55-46, the MSU lead was single digits for the first time since early in the first half. The closest the Lady Rebs would get the rest of the way, however, was eight points twice as State held on for victory.
Ole Miss actually ended up shooting 32 percent for the game (22-of-69), while State continued to be hot at 50 percent (24-48).
"This was a huge win for us," said MSU Coach Sharon Fanning, whose team is now 15-9 and 4-7. "In the first half we had a great defensive effort, good rebounding, we made the extra pass, and we just played good fundamental basketball."
Price had 15 points and Cansdale 11 for Ole Miss, while State had three players in double figures led by Tiania Burns with 15.
The Lady Rebels had won the last three games in the series to take a commanding 56-11 lead in the series. Until tonight, that is.
"Give Mississippi State credit," Ross said. "They came out and set an aggressive tone defensively, and good defense always leads to good offense. Tonight, we just didn't respond to the fight. That's the bad news. The good news is that that's unusual for us."
Ole Miss hosts Georgia Sunday at 2 p.m. at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Lady Bulldogs get rare win over Lady Rebels
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