MSU's Fanning-Otis wins No. 600
MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, right, presents women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis with a basketball commemorating her 600th career coaching victory Wednesday night after the Lady Bulldogs defeated South Alabama 63-47 at Humphrey Coliseum. (Photo by Lee Adams, SDN)
Mississippi State women's head basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis joined an elite group on Wednesday night.
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With the Lady Bulldogs' 63-47 win over South Alabama, it gave Fanning-Otis her 600th career win and made her the 14th NCAA Division I coach to reach the milestone.
"Whether is a player of a coach, I think any milestone is always special," said Fanning-Otis. "But it's a reflection of the young ladies who are out there, because i haven't scored a point since I've been coaching, so it's attribute to the young ladies I've coached, the assistants and the fans, so It's a special win."
One of the young ladies who helped Fanning-Otis capture her 600th win was senior guard Diamber Johnson, who scored a team-high 22 points and was happy for her head coach.Â
"It's a great thing," said Johnson, who is currently second in the Southeastern Conference in scoring. "I know it's special for her and I've been here for four years and I've been helping her get to this point and it's been great to know that I've been a part of it in a big way."
The win probably wasn't the prettiest in Fanning-Otis' career, but her Lady Bulldogs (6-1) pulled together after a slow start and got the win.
"We found a way to win the ball game," said Fanning-Otis. "It's a blessing and another one in the right direction of where we want to go as a team."
Even though her team found a way to get her to 600 wins, there was some worry early on. The Lady Jaguars (5-2) jumped out to an early lead, but then MSU went on a 19-0 run that took almost 10 minutes.
"We were getting the paint and I think most of our shots were at the paint," said Johnson. "We were just driving and we were living in the paint, shooting and getting rebounds."
South Alabama's Mary Nixon ended MSU's run with 5:41 left in the first half, but MSU held them to a 14.7 shooting percentage, which is the lowest percentage shot against the Lady Bulldogs this season.
The Lady Jaguars didn't fair much better in the second half against the Lady Bulldog defense as they shot 29 percent. MSU held South Alabama to a 21.5 shooting percentage for the game which is the second lowest this season, to pick up the win.
Porsha Porter and Catina Bett added 11 points each in the Lady Bulldogs victory, but they have a big challenge coming to town on Sunday in Tulane. Tulane has defeated LSU and other strong teams, but Bett feels that MSU has a good game plan for them.
"We have to come out with a hard drive and mentality," said Bett. "They are a pretty good team, but I think we can beat them. We just have to come out and play to our level."
Johnson looks at the game as more of a challenge that could boost the Lady Bulldogs season with a win or a loss.
"I think it's going to help us, because to beat a team like that, that has beat LSU, we'll have to play two halves," said Johnson. "Whether we win or lose, it's going to help us and let us know where we stand."Â
Fanning-Otis getting her 600th win is something she will enjoy as her team has an off day today, but it could be put on the back burner quickly with Tulane coming to town.
"It's been a hectic couple of weeks, so it's good to have one day to reflect," said Fanning-Otis. "But we have a lot to do and a lot of things to catch up on, and get ready to go on Friday for a very good basketball team coming in here on Sunday."
After the win, Fanning-Otis was greeted by MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, who presented her with a basketball commemorating her 600th win for her trophy case. Before leaving the court, Fanning-Otis grabbed the microphone and thanked the school, players, coaches and fans.
The Lady Bulldogs battle with Tulane on Sunday will tip off at 2 p.m.