By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State’s women get another shot at Ohio State tonight.
Last season, the Buckeyes knocked MSU out of the NCAA tournament in the second round. Today in Pittsburgh, the teams square off in another second-round NCAA tourney game. Tipoff is set for 6:11 p.m. on ESPN2.
Each team has four starters back from last year’s squads, so there will be great familiarity between the teams.
“We can’t reflect on what happened last year, we just have to focus in on who we are and what we do best,” said MSU junior Mary Kathryn Govero.
Still, MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis hopes her team remembers last year’s 64-58 loss to OSU.
“I think the thing you take (from it) is the fact you played them tough, and it’s 40 minutes,” she said.
No. 7 seed MSU (20-12) didn’t play a full 40 minutes in Sunday’s first-round win over Middle Tennessee State. The Lady Bulldogs had to rally from a 10-point second-half deficit to win 68-64.
“We have to do a better job of playing defense than (Sunday) by putting more pressure on the ball and being more alert,” Fanning-Otis said.
Point guard Alexis Rack scored 21 points in the win, and forward Chanel Mokango added 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Ohio State (31-4), a No. 2 seed, can do damage inside and out.
Center Jantel Lavender averages 21.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game; point guard Samantha Prahalis is second in the nation with 8.1 assists per game; and guard Brittany Johnson is shooting 47.7 percent from 3-point range, best in the Big 10.
The Buckeyes dispatched St. Francis (Pa.) in the first round, 93-59, shooting 49.3 percent from the floor. They expect a much tougher battle tonight.
“I expect for them to come out with a lot of fire, and a feeling of getting revenge on us,” Lavender said. “I’m expecting for them to play extremely hard. We definitely have to go out with extreme intensity.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.