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By DANNY P. SMITH
It has been a sweet career for Mary Kathryn Govero at Mississippi State.
Not only will Govero go down as one of the best scorers ever for the Lady Bulldog basketball program, but she was a part of team that advanced farther than any other in school history.
The MSU women defeated Ohio State last season 87-67 to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16. The victory against the Lady Buckeyes avenged a 64-58 loss the year before to knock the Lady Bulldogs out of the NCAA Tournament.
Govero said certain games, like the second one against Ohio State, stand out in her mind as special, but she knows the entire postseason run of last season was important personally and for MSU.
"I've had a lot of good memories, especially last year in taking this program farther than it's ever been before and leaving it in better condition than I found it," Govero said. "I'll remember the two NCAA postseason appearances and last year to avenge a loss that we had against Ohio State, to see our team come together like it did in that game and end on a good note."
Govero will be recognized this afternoon during Senior Day activities prior to the Lady Bulldogs' final home game against Ole Miss. The tip at Humphrey Coliseum is scheduled for 2 p.m.
As the only senior, MSU women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said Govero deserves to have the stage all to herself.
"If you look at a person like that on just how they've represented the university from a student-athlete standpoint and personally as well, it's been such a blessing (to have Govero)," Fanning-Otis said. "You can't describe it. If a person can work as hard as she's worked, make the grade and represent you on and off the court and then become a successful basketball player in the toughest league in the country, you are very proud of what she's done as a coach."
Govero said the experiences she's had and the lessons learned from Fanning-Otis have prepared her well for a possible life in coaching.
"I would like to go into coaching at some level whether it be high school or college," Govero said. "I've learned a lot from coach Fanning in how to deal with people on and off the court. I can take what I've learn to be the best coach that I can be."
According to teammate Diamber Johnson, Govero is off to a good start by showing leadership for the Lady Bulldogs.
"Mary Kathryn is one of the most influential, positive people I've ever dealt with on and off the court," Johnson said. "I was thinking the other day that she's going to be highly missed when she leaves.
"M Kat makes bad situations into something funny. She always keeps us on our toes."
After making the 2008 All-Freshman Team in 2008, Govero has compiled some impressive numbers.
Govero, who averages 12.6 points per game this season, stands 14th on MSU's career scoring list with 1,132 points and is only 13 away from reaching 13th. Her 177 career three-point field goals made stands third in school history and her 465 three-point attempts ranks fourth all-time.
"It's good to look back on the time I've had here and just to see how far I've progressed from my freshman season until now," Govero said.
Fanning-Otis said Govero has always embraced the team concept and has played through ankle problems this season.
Govero turned one of her ankles in Wednesday's practice, but was able to come back and score 21 points in Thursday's 68-55 victory against Alabama.
"She's tough," Fanning-Otis said. "She'll rub a little dirt on it and be ready to go. She has played on it and needed surgery, but it's just a reflection on how tough she is and wanted to have this full year to try to be the best she could be. She's been an ultimate team player and a great worker. We can all be very proud of her accomplishments."
It just so happens that Govero's final home game is against the rival Lady Rebels.
As if there's not enough motivation surrounding the day, Govero said Ole Miss coming in puts a little more emphasis on it.
"With it being Ole Miss, it's one you want to win and it's the last home game so it means a little bit more," Govero said. "Hopefully we can come out and have the focus we need to get the job done and go out with a win at home. A win over Ole Miss will make it even better."
Even though this season has not gone the way Govero or the team would have liked, the overall college experience has been rewarding to her.
"I'll be able to look back on all of the positive things," Govero said. "We've had our ups and downs this year, but I'll also be able to take things from this into my future in coaching and use these things in my development.
"I'm just thankful for the time I had here and thank everyone who has helped me get to this point and the opportunity I've had to be a part of the Mississippi State family."