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By DANNY P. SMITH
It took the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks a little while to warm up at Humphrey Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
Once they did, there wasn't much the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs could do to stop them.
Arkansas didn't score for almost five minutes of the first half, but got its offense going to secure a 61-56 Southeastern Conference victory over MSU at Humphrey Coliseum.
With the victory, the Lady Razorbacks improved to an impressive 14-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. Despite a big second-half comeback to make the game close, the Lady Bulldogs fell to 8-6 overall and 0-2 in the league.
"We've just got to play tougher and play better team defense," MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "We just have to keep plugging away from a defensive standpoint. It's going to be tough against some folks, but in many cases, we're doing things to ourselves."
Both teams were as cold as the ice storm early in the first half, then Katia May scored the first points of the game at the 17:25 mark to put the Lady Bulldogs up 2-0. A pair of free throws by Ashley Brown increased the margin to 4-0.
After Lyndsay Harris scored Arkansas' first points with 15:30 remaining in the first half, it was part of a 10-0 run to get the Lady Razorbacks going as they secured a 10-4 advantage.
May sank a shot to end the Arkansas run and added a free throw to bring MSU to within 10-7, but a pair of baskets by Sarah Watkins and one by Keira Peak gave the Lady 'Backs a 16-7 lead.
A three-point play by Ashley Brown, another basket by May and a score by Darriel Gaynor closed the gap for the Lady Bulldogs to 16-14 with 5:30 left in the opening half.
Arkansas held a 19-14 lead when Mary Kathryn Govero hit Mississippi State's only three-pointer of the first half, but the 19-17 difference was as close as the Lady Bulldogs would get the rest of the way.
Harris hit a pair from long range and Watkins scored inside as the Lady 'Backs took a 30-17 advantage at halftime.
The Lady Bulldogs only shot 20 percent from the field (6 of 30) in the first half and 9 percent from long range (1 of 11).
In the second half, Mississippi State did cut the lead to three points late twice. Diamber Johnson hit a three-pointer to bring the Lady Bulldogs to within 57-54, then Porsha Porter drove baseline and scored to close the gap to 59-56.
Harris hit a pair of free throws for Arkansas to produce the final margin.
"We were able to battle back, but we can't come in at a half and decide to get the ball to the rim," Fanning-Otis said. "We have to handle this and have to grow with it."
The leading scorer for MSU was May with 12 points, but Johnson was the only other player to score in double digits with 10 points.
Watkins had 21 points for the Lady Razorbacks, while Harris added 13 points and C'eira Ricketts chipped in 10 points.
There was a scary moment in the second half when Arkansas' Ashley Daniels from Coldwater, Miss., took a hard spill to the floor with 5:09 left to play and suffered an apparent head injury.
Both teams gathered near the Arkansas bench to say a prayer for Daniels and a stretcher was brought out to take her off the court. She was responsive while being taken to the hospital.
The Lady Bulldogs continue their homestand Thursday night when MSU alumnus and Louisville native Van Chancellor brings his LSU Lady Tigers to town. The 7 p.m. tip is scheduled for Fox Sports Net television.