Lady Bulldogs look to take next step
MSU junior forward Ashley Brown (25) looks to score against South Carolina. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
The Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs have four regular season games remaining beginning with tonight's encounter against the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores at Humphrey Coliseum.
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So far this month, the Lady Bulldogs have broken even with road wins against Auburn and Ole Miss and home losses to Alabama and South Carolina.
Mississippi State women's coach Sharon Fanning-Otis was disappointed that her squad didn't beat the Lady Gamecocks in its last game, but does see the Lady Bulldogs getting better.
"I still feel like we're improving and playing with energy," Fanning-Otis said. "We're going to learn from (the 60-53 loss to South Carolina) and will help us win another game. We're to that point with this basketball team.
"We're getting tougher; we're understanding each other better; and we're gaining confidence in each other. You expect to win but sometimes you are not in a position to win them. We can do that now with this basketball team. We want to finish this month better and better every game we play."
That won't be an easy chore at 7 p.m. against the Lady Commodores, who bring records of 17-8 overall and 8-4 in the Southeastern Conference to Starkville.
Vanderbilt's leading scorer Hannah Tuomi averages 12.7 points per outing and will be just another challenge to guard for MSU.
Fanning-Otis said the Lady Bulldogs must not lose Tuomi or any of the other four Vanderbilt players who have scoring averages in double digits at this point of the season.
"As teams are different, we do have to understand what the strengths of another team is, but we've got to make sure we guard that as a team," Fanning-Otis said. "There is nothing about our basketball team that's going to be individual. It's going to be knowing how to play together and where each other will be on the floor. It's going to be through a total team effort through our defense, rebounding and shot selection."
Senior guard Mary Kathryn Govero leads MSU (10-14, 2-10) in scoring with 11.9 points per game, while junior guard Diamber Johnson is just off the pace with 11.8 points per contest.
Junior forward Ashley Brown, who averages 8.5 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs and good for fifth in the SEC, agrees with her coach that it's going to take a complete effort from everyone to beat the Lady Commodores and the rest of the teams on the schedule.
"You have some people who boxed out and some people who don't," Brown said. "We've all got to do it as a team and get the rebounds. I feel we are getting a lot better as a team. We just need to bring more energy every game and don't relax. The more energy we bring, the better we'll be as a team."