Miss. State Lady Bulldogs drop road game at South Carolina

By School report

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mississippi State failed to maintain an offensive rhythm Sunday afternoon, as the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 69-43 Southeastern Conference women’s basketball decision to South Carolina at Colonial Life Arena.

MSU failed to snag its third conference road win of the season, while falling to 13-8 overall and 3-5 in league play. Continuing its best season in years, South Carolina improved to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in league play. The Gamecocks have now won back-to-back games in the series after previously losing four straight.

The Lady Bulldogs trailed by eight points at halftime. After closing within seven, the Maroon and White allowed a game-deciding 17-2 run.

“It goes back to effort,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. “But when adversity sets up, we need to bow up. We had too many turnovers and didn’t take the ball at them. We have to learn from this and grow, and get ready for our next ballgame.”

MSU held its only lead after scoring game’s opening basket. The Gamecocks slowly eased out to a 10-6 advantage. The Lady Bulldogs hung tough by hitting close to 40 percent of its shots from the field in the opening half.

South Carolina built a 20-12 lead before back-to-back scores by Porsha Porter and Ashley Brown brought the Lady Bulldogs within four.

The Gamecocks quickly pushed the lead to double digits before easing into halftime with a 30-22 advantage.

“It’s important that everyone plays really hard, and that starts with our seniors with how they work,” Fanning-Otis said. “We have some good athletic teams in this league, and South Carolina is one of those. They stayed at it and played hard for 40 minutes.”

The Gamecocks hit 15 of 27 second-half shots from the field and led by as many as 32 points.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 19 of 62 shots from the field (30.6 percent), 0 of 8 shots from 3-point range and 5 of 9 shots from the foul line (55.6 percent). The Gamecocks hit 28 of 57 shots from the field (49.1 percent), 5 of 20 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 8 of 14 shots from the foul line (57.1 percent).

MSU held a 40-34 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had six assists and 16 turnovers, while the Gamecocks had 17 assists and 11 turnovers. MSU did not hit a 3-point basket in the game for the first time since 2006.

Porter led MSU with 19 points and seven rebounds.

USC received 17 points from La’Keisha Sutton and 15 points from Markeisha Grant.

MSU remains on the road for a Thursday night contest at Georgia. The latest SEC Battle of the Bulldogs will start at 6 p.m. central time at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.