ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands – Mississippi State had very little to be thankful for Thursday night, as the 19th-ranked Lady Bulldogs dropped their first basketball game of the season, a 73-55 loss to 13th-ranked Texas in the opening round of the 10th annual Paradise Jam.
The Lady Bulldogs saw a season-opening, four-game win streak snapped in their first contest away from home this season. MSU could not beat back-to-back ranked opponents, after an impressive 84-55 win over then No. 20-Maryland last Sunday. For the 3-1 Longhorns, the Thanksgiving night victory made amends for last season’s 71-63 defeat to the Lady Bulldogs in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
This contest got away from MSU in the closing minutes of the opening half. After a tight, defensive struggle for most of the first 20 minutes, MSU actually held a 24-23 lead. Texas then reeled off a 10-0 run. MSU’s Mary Kathryn Govero rammed home a 3-point basket to end the half, cutting the deficit to 33-27 at the break.
However, in the opening stages of the second half, the Longhorns again pieced together another strong run. UT opened the half with a 10-2 spurt and was able to lead by double digits for the remainder of the contest.
A 14-3 run midway through the second half allowed the Longhorns to take their longest lead, at 65-39 with 8:14 remaining. However, the Lady Bulldogs could not muster any offensive rhythm during a cold-shooting second half of play.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 20 of 62 shots (32.2 percent) from the field, 4 of 20 shots (20.0 percent) from 3-point range and 11 of 21 shots (52.4 percent) from the foul line. The Longhorns hit 29 of 59 shots (49.2 percent) from the field, 4 of 14 shots (28.6 percent) from 3-point range and 11 of 15 shots (73.3 percent) from the foul line.
Texas held a 45-33 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 11 assists and 14 turnovers, while the Longhorns had 13 assists and 20 turnovers. MSU has now forced 20 or more turnovers in each of its first five games this season.
Aremie Lumanu led MSU with 14 points. Fresh off her 43-point day against Maryland, Alexis Rack scored 13 points Thursday night. Also in double figures were Tysheka Grimes with 11 points and Chanel Mokango with 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Ashleigh Fontenette led Texas with 20 points. Brittany Ravern followed with 14 points and Kathleen Nash added 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs resume tournament play with a 4:45 p.m. CT start against Rutgers Friday. MSU plays Southern California at 4:45 p.m. CT Saturday. Both of those contests will be available in an internet-only broadcast free of charge on Maroon to the Max at mstateathletics.com and also through live video streams at Fox College Sports Broadband ($8 each).