By DANNY P. SMITH
The Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters looked like a totally different team in the second half against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs Wednesday night.
After being held to just 20 points in the first half, the Louisiana Tech offense exploded to 49
second-half points and ended up winning a 69-61 decision at Humphrey Coliseum.
Mississippi State coach Sharon Fanning-Otis said the postseason experience of the Lady Techsters showed in the second 20 minutes.
"When you look at the two games we've lost (Louisiana Tech and Tulane), there are teams with NCAA experience and have some really good seniors and juniors coming back," Fanning-Otis said. "You look at (Whitney Jones) and she's a fifth-year senior."
After only managing to get two points in the first half, Jones finished as the leading scorer for
the Lady Techsters with 20 points. She was followed by Shantale Bramble-Donaldson with 14 points, Adrienne Johnson with 13 points and Tarkeisha Wysinger-Mackey with 12 points. In the first half, they had two, two and six points, respectively.
When senior starter Mary Kathryn Govero went down in the second half with an ankle injury and forward Ashley Brown got into foul trouble, it seemed to throw the Lady Bulldogs off their game.
"We lost people, got in foul trouble and as a whole, we lost our composure," MSU junior guard
Diamber Johnson said. "We were doing things we haven't done in practice. It was like being out there in a whole new world."
Govero hurt her ankle with 12:17 left in the game and tried to play through the pain, but she was noticeably limping.
Even though the injury didn't appear to be serious, Govero just wasn't mobile enough to continue and Fanning-Otis had no choice than to sit her down the stretch.
Govero had gotten hot from the field prior to the injury and had scored all seven of her points
within the first 8 minutes of the second half.
When the player nicknamed "M-Kat" left the game, it seemed to take some of the wind out of the sales of the Lady Bulldogs.
"It made a difference because a lot of our offense goes through M-Kat," Johnson said. "If M-Kat is not touching the ball and being able to shoot, we really don't have another person who can shoot the ball like M-Kat. It hurt us offensive-wise and defensive-wise, not having M-Kat."
Fanning-Otis expects Govero to be back by Saturday's home game against North Texas, but Johnson said the team must prepare like it won't have the veteran player.
"We can work on it so we can know what it's like without her," Johnson said. "We can go to
practice and work harder at what we didn't do tonight so if this ever happens again, we know how to handle it."
Johnson scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half as MSU took its advantage at the break, while Judith Tabala led the team with 15 points. Porsha Porter had 10 points.
When the Lady Bulldogs continue their homestand with 1 p.m. tip, Fanning-Otis said they have to turn the defensive intensity up a level.
"It just comes down to guarding people," Fanning-Otis said. "We didn't get out on (Jones) and shot hits a couple of shots and that gives a team momentum. We have to be tougher. It takes toughness and we have to stay focused."