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STARKVILLE, Miss. –Mississippi State overcame a sluggish start to post a 66-48 victory over Alcorn State in a women’s basketball game played Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs shot 29.4 percent in the opening half and only led 24-15 at the break. The lead was still only seven points midway through the final half before a game-deciding 13-3 run.
“It was a gritty win,” MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. “We played with more intensity in the second half. We had more focus when the game was on the line. Alcorn does a lot of good things. We didn’t read and react well for most of the night.”
Senior Diamber Johnson paced the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points, her 11th-straight game in double figures going back to the 2010-11 season. She was one of three MSU players in double digits, as Porsha Porter and Kendra Grant tallied 13 and 11, respectively.
Freshman Martha Alwal finished one point shy of her third-straight double-double as she paced the MSU defense with 22 rebounds, a mark that tied LaToya Thomas for fifth-most in a game. The tally was also the most ever by a Lady Bulldog freshman, and her 10 offensive boards were the most in a game since 1988.
Both teams struggled through a turnover-marred first half. The Maroon and White scored the game’s first seven points and actually never trailed in the contest. A Grant layup moved the MSU advantage to 12-4 with 14:42 left in the half. From there, the Lady Bulldogs would only manage five field goals for the remainder of the half.
While the Lady Bulldogs (3-0) were frigid in the first half, Alcorn State (0-2) was ice cold. The Lady Braves only hit on 4-of-23 first-half field goal attempts. Each team had 12 turnovers in the opening half.
“This was a complete turnaround from the other night (a 71-65 win over Xavier Monday night),” MSU’s Johnson said. “We did what we said we weren’t going to do. We took this team lightly. We didn’t use this game to get ready for our next game (at No. 6 Texas A&M) like we should have.”
Still, the Lady Bulldogs were rarely threatened in the game’s final 20 minutes.
A 3-point basket by Grant – one of five by MSU in the contest – placed the hosts on top, 33-19 with 15:35 left in regulation. From there, Alcorn State responded with an 11-4 run to climb back within, 37-30.
“Give Alcorn State a lot of credit,” Fanning-Otis said. “They have just about everybody back from last year. They play so hard. When you play that hard then you always have a chance. Defensively, they did a lot of things that caused us problems.
“We didn’t do a good job of executing our half-court offense and turned the ball over way too many times.”
A 13-3 run by the Lady Bulldogs moved the lead back out to 50-33 with 7:32 left in regulation. A 3-point basket by Porter capped the monster run.
For the contest, the Lady Bulldogs hit 26 of 67 shots from the field (38.8 percent), 5 of 16 shots from 3-point range (31.3 percent) and 9 of 20 shots from the foul line (45.0 percent). The Lady Braves hit 18 of 55 shots from the field (32.7 percent), 2 of 8 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 10 of 21 shots from the foul line (47.6 percent).
MSU held a 59-34 rebounding advantage. The Lady Bulldogs had 12 assists and 24 turnovers, while the Lady Braves had seven assists and 21 turnovers.
Alcorn State received 15 points from Kiara Ruffin and 12 points from Renelle Richmond.
The Lady Bulldogs now take to the road for the first time this season. MSU plays No. 6 Texas A&M in the Super Six Series Sunday in College Station, Tex. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.



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