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Lady Bulldogs falter in stretch to lose at home

February 5, 2012

Diamber Johnson scored 17 points for MSU on Sunday. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

The top two scorers in Southeastern Conference women's basketball went head to head Sunday afternoon when the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs played the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores at Humphrey Coliseum.

Even though Vanderbilt's Christina Foggie and MSU's Diamber Johnson finished even in points with 17 each, it was Foggie who got the edge where it counted most as the Lady Commodores won a 65-59 decision.

Going into the game, Foggie, the SEC Player of the Week, averaged 17.8 points per game, while Johnson scored 16.4 points per outing.

Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said that Foggie has come back from having concussion syndrome as a freshman to having a very solid sophomore campaign.

"If there was a most improved award in this league, she would get it," Balcomb said. "After not having a normal freshman year, that kid went from nothing to our leading scorer."

Foggie's two free throws put the Lady Commodores up 65-56 with 23 seconds remaining in the game.

Johnson had a basket and free throw with 7 seconds left, but it was not enough for the Lady Bulldogs, who fell to 13-10 overall and 3-7 in the SEC.

"We have to keep grinding," Johnson said after another tough loss. "We're taking a lot more steps. They are not steps backward, but they are forward. We are still just hurting ourselves."

MSU got off to another slow start, falling behind Vanderbilt 19-6 in the first half.

The Lady Bulldogs were able to close the gap to 29-26 at halftime.

State tied the game four times in the second half at 40-40 on a basket by Johnson, 42-42 with a score from Kendra Grant, 44-44 on another hoop by Johnson and 54-54 with a bucket by Catina Bett.

The Lady Commodores went on a 7-0 run from that point to get control of the game so it was a case where the Lady Bulldogs just could not get over the hump.

"I didn't think feel like we're tough enough down the stretch," MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said. "It's very frustrating for me and everyone. We're going to continue to coach hard and we expect the team to play hard and consistent. That's hard to do in this league."

Bett tied a career-high with 16 points for MSU by hitting 8-of-14 shots from the field.

Even though she had a productive day, Bett had a hard time coming to grips with another loss in the league.

"I don't look at my points," Bett said. "It hurts more to have those stats and don't have a win behind it. It feels good, but it has to be more consistent. We're trying to build on it each game."

The Lady Bulldogs travel to LSU on Thursday.

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