- Mississippi State has reached the NCAA tournament regional semifinals – the “Sweet 16” – for the first time. The Lady Bulldogs had been to the second round four times (200, 2002, 2003 and last season) without advancing.
“I’m happy for our program and this team with a number of seniors,” said MSU coach Sharon Faning-Otis. “I’ve had a sign on the door that says ‘why not?’ ... milestones are great from programs, and the next logical step is the Sweet 16.”
It’ll be the sixth meeting with Florida State. The Lady Bulldogs lead the series 3-2, having won the last meeting 65-60 in overtime in late 2006. The teams have never met on a neutral court.
- It didn’t take long for Fanning-Otis to identify the key statistic against Ohio State.
Her Lady Bulldogs held a 37-9 edge in points off turnovers; Ohio State turned it over 24 times, MSU just 11.
“The difference in the ball game was the turnover ratio,” she said. “We scored 37 points off of turnovers. Sometimes you get those opportunities and don’t collect on them; then you’re not doing your job. We used those turnovers and got the ball to the rim, and we cashed in tonight. Turnovers were the biggest factor.”
- MSU ranked only eighth in the SEC this season in field goal percentage (40.7) and 3-point percentage (31.5). But on Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs sizzled from the field (34 of 61, 55.7) and front behind the arc (12 of 22, 54.5).
“I think is was probably the best overall,” Fanning-Otis said of her team’s offensive effort. “Success breeds success. So when a couple of shots fall, I know that puts a little pep in your step and it carries over.”
Rack, who had struggled with her shooting in March, offered a simple explanation for her success: “I was just taking what they gave me. I think once I get hot the ball is just going in. So that’s it, I just got hot.”
- “If they can bottle it they can beat a lot of teams. I’m sure Sharon would love to see what she saw tonight on a regular basis.” – Jim Foster, Ohio State head coach, asked to assess MSU’s chances of advancing after Tuesday’s victory.
Compiled by John L. Pitts