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MSU loses lead late, falls to Florida 61-55

January 11, 2013

The Mississippi State Bulldogs had a lead against the Florida Gators in the second half of their Southeastern Conference game Thursday night.

Then they ran into Bonds - Jaterra Bonds.

Bonds, who finished the game with 17 points, hit a basket and two free throws with the Bulldogs leading 52-51 and the Gators went on to a 61-55 victory at Humphrey Coliseum.

"At that time, I knew we had to come back and answer because they were on a roll," Bonds said. "I just had to make a play."

It wasn't the way MSU wanted to see the game turn after working all of the way back to gain the advantage and head coach Vic Schaefer called the situation "disappointing."

"We deserved to win, but take nothing away from Florida because they found a way to win," Schaefer said. "I'm proud of my team. I've just got to coach better and teach better to get a better outcome."

With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 8-8 overall and 0-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Florida won its eighth-straight game in the series and improved to 13-4 and 2-1.

The Gators are showing head coach Amanda Butler signs of improvement each game.

"I wasn't happy with our composure in the first half, but we got it back together made those plays," Butler said.

A pair of 3-point field goals by Kendra Grant got MSU to within 51-50 with 6 minutes remaining in the game.

Former West Oktibbeha player Shamia Robinson gave the Bulldogs a 52-51 lead with 4:20 left on a short hook shot.

That's when Bonds hit a basket to put the Gators back on top 53-52.

Florida outscored MSU 8-3 down the stretch.

"We've got to score down the stretch," Schaefer said. "You are not going to hold everyone to zero."

The Gators scored the first four points of the game, while the Bulldogs missed their first three shots from the field.

Candace Foster got the first basket for State at the 17:11 mark of the opening half.

After Florida increased its lead to 7-2, Robinson hit a 3-point field goal with 13:25 left for MSU to close the gap to 7-5.
The Bulldogs tied the game twice in the first half at 18-18 and 23-23, but the Gators went on a 7-0 run to gain a 30-23 advantage.

Carnecia Williams scored the final basket of the half for MSU as both teams went into intermission with the score standing at 30-25.

Grant finished the game with a 23-point effort for the Bulldogs. It was the type of effort she was looking for and one that Schaefer has been trying to get from her.

"I wanted take coaches word to heart," Grant said. "If I had the ball, he wants me to shoot."

Also individually for MSU, Martha Alwal earned her seventh double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. She also had a pair of blocked shots to reach second all-time with 119 in her career.

"Mississippi State played very tough and showed a lot of fight," Butler said. "They had players like Grant and Alwal really step up and rise to occasion."

The Bulldogs were shorthanded without the services of Sherise Williams, who has a stress fracture, and Darriel Gaynor, who has an injured foot. Neither player is expected to get back to action soon.

"We were behind the eight-ball from the jump," Schaefer said. "There's no one that's going to feel sorry for us. That's just SEC basketball."

MSU shot 33.8 percent (22-of-65) from the field, but found it tough keeping Florida off the line. The Gators hit 25-of-39 shots from the charity stripe after being fouled 29 times by the Bulldogs. It is the second-straight game State has had that number of fouls.

Schaefer used the word "disappointing" again about the number of fouls, and didn't choose to elaborate.
MSU makes the trip to Baton Rouge, La., Sunday to take on LSU.

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