Lady Bulldogs lose home SEC game
MSU sophomore guard Darriel Gaynor (2) fights to secure possession of the basketball against South Carolina on Sunday. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs can relate to an old fisherman's tale on Sunday afternoon.
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It was all about the one that got away.
MSU let an eight-point lead slip away in the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks and lost a 60-53 Southeastern Conference decision at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs went up 42-34 with 11:08 remaining in the game on a basket by Ashley Brown, but the Lady Gamecocks out-scored their hosts 26-11 the rest of the way.
It wasn't exactly the way MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis wanted to see the stretch of the game unfold.
"Our players are finding this out more and more, it's going to come down to several possessions in this league," Fanning-Otis said. "You have to make a stand and get a stop, then you have to get a score and get another stop. You have to grow that. We lost some opportunities.
"The bottom line is you didn't get stops. They scored and we didn't get stops."
After winning two games, the loss puts the Lady Bulldogs at 10-14 overall and 2-10 in the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina (15-10, 7-5) has won five of its last six games.
The Lady Gamecocks were coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, a 66-61 home decision over a top 25 team in Kentucky, and head coach Dawn Staley had a cause of concern heading into the MSU matchup.
"Coming in, (the Lady Bulldogs are) a scary team because they have 11 new players and they are just now starting to (come together)," Staley said. "We didn't want to be a team that came in here flat after the Kentucky game. We were trying to get our players to fight through."
The guard trio of Ieasia Walker, Valerie Nainima and Markeshia Grant combined for 34 of South Carolina's 60 points. Walker led the Lady Gamecocks with 16 points.
MSU junior guard Diamber Johnson said Walker, Nainima and Grant were a tough group to handle.
"They are really great attackers and play with a lot of intensity," Johnson said. "They did what they did well."
The Lady Bulldogs got off to a quick start as Catina Bett hit a pair of field goals for a 4-0 lead.
A pair of baskets by Porsha Porter gave Mississippi State a 20-17 lead with 1:20 remaining in the first half, then Johnson sank a three-point field goal to created a margin of 23-19 at halftime. Johnson had 12 first-half points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a pair of three-pointers.
Johnson led the Lady Bulldogs with 21 points, but Staley thought her team contained the Pontotoc native.
"She got hers, but we did a (good) job on Johnson for 40 minutes," Staley said.
Brown was the only other MSU player to score in double digits with 10 points.
The Lady Bulldogs return home Thursday when the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores invade Humphrey Coliseum.