Porter's season-high tally leads MSU past USM, 71-57

By MSU Media Relations

STARKVILLE – Behind a season-high 25 points from Porsha Porter, the Mississippi State women’s basketball team rolled to a 71-57 victory over in-state rival Southern Mississippi Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum.

Bouncing back from a disappointing 63-62 loss at Louisiana Tech Sunday afternoon, the Lady Bulldogs improved to 8-2 overall and 7-0 at home. The Lady Bulldogs have now won four straight in the series, while coach Sharon Fanning-Otis moved to 10-5 all-time against the Lady Eagles.

“We did a good job pressuring them defensively,” Fanning-Otis said. “Porsha Porter forced a lot of turnovers for us, although it was a team effort she had a lot to do with it. As a team, finding a way to have good defense is the key.”

The Lady Bulldogs forced 25 Sothern Miss turnovers and turned those takeaways into 31 points. The Maroon and White scored the game’s first 12 points and immediately sprinted out to a 15-1 advantage. After that, the Lady Bulldogs would not lead by less than five the rest of the way.

“Fifteen to one to start the game,” Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “We are not ready to start. We had six turnovers in the first few minutes of the game. We were all out of whack and could not make a change.”

The Lady Bulldogs also got good balance for the fast scoring start. Kendra Grant scored the game’s first five points, before Ashley Brown and Porter hit back-to-back baskets. Porter rammed a 3-pointer home for the 12-0 lead.

The Lady Eagles (3-6) closed within 17-12 on a layup by Jamierra Faulkner. Southern Miss took advantage of MSU’s own turnover troubles to stay afloat. However, a 3-point basket by MSU’s Darriel Gaynor and followed-up steal by Brown and layup by Johnson ran the advantage back to 24-14.

MSU shot 46.2 percent from the field in the opening half and led 36-30 at the intermission.

“We have to play the whole game like we came out,” Johnson said. “When we have teams down we have to continue to play hard and keep them down, instead of letting teams come back. We have to finish strong.”

The Lady Bulldogs did indeed finish strong with a brilliant second half. MSU opened the final half with 24-6 run as the lead suddenly grew to 60-36 with 8:41 left in the contest. Defensively, Southern Miss was held to eight field goals in the final half, including a 9 minute, 35 second stretch with only one field goal.

“We just need to get the scoring in double figures more consistently,” Fanning-Otis said. “This game, we were very close. Our guards got to the free throw line like we want them to. We have to keep our opponent off the line, but overall our percentage was better.”

The Lady Eagles closed the game with a 9-2 run to create the final margin.

For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 23 of 54 shots from the field (42.6 percent), 6 of 17 shots from 3-point range (35.3 percent) and 19 of 25 shots from the foul line (76.0 percent). The Lady Eagles hit 19 of 57 shots from the field (33.3 percent), 4 of 18 shots from 3-point range (22.2 percent) and 15 of 19 shots from the foul line (78.9 percent).

MSU held a 39-35 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 14 assists and 22 turnovers, while the Lady Eagles had nine assists and 25 turnovers.

Porter posted her monster night on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor. The senior guard also hit three 3-pointers and 6-of-8 foul shots. Porter is averaging 20.7 points per game in her last three starts.

“I was just bringing energy to the team,” Porter said. “I knew Diamber had an off night so I had to step up.”

Also in double figures for MSU were Grant with a career-high 13 points and Johnson with 11 points. Brown had a team-high 10 rebounds and a career-high six steals. Johnson added seven assists and a career-high three blocked shots.

Southern Miss received 21 points from Tanecka Carey, 13 points from Niesha Pierce and 11 points from Ance Celmina.

MSU hosts Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. Monday. The Ragin’ Cajuns are coached by former MSU assistant coach Errol Rogers.