STARKVILLE, Miss - On the heels of perhaps its most successful season in school history and an appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16, the Mississippi State women's basketball team will open up the 2010-11 season Friday afternoon, entertaining USC Upstate at 4 p.m. at the Humphrey Coliseum. The season opener with the Spartans is the first part of a double header that will conclude with the Mississippi State men's basketball team hosting Tennessee State in a 7 p.m. contest.
After the departure of eight seniors a year ago, head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis and the Lady Bulldogs will have a new look this season. Three letterwinners in senior Mary Kathryn Govero, along with juniors Diamber Johnson and Danielle Rector return this season.
Govero, who started all 34 games a year ago, averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 rebounds a game last season. The Clinton, Miss.,-native hit on 74 three-point field goals last season which is the fifth-best mark in school history Johnson, who played in all 34 games last season, averaged 4.1 points while adding 73 assists. In just two years, she has seen action in 66 career games.
USC Upstate, located in Spartanburg, S.C., return three starters from last season's 20-9 team that finished third in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Spartans finished with a 14-6 Conference record in 2009-10. USC Upstate is 65-80 in five years under head coach Tammy George. USC Upstate is led by Preseason A-Sun Player of the Year Chelsea McMillan who averaged 14.2 points and 10.8 rebounds a game last season. Last season's A-Sun Freshman of the Year Tee'Ara Copney returns after averaging 11.6 points and 3.2 rebounds a game.
Friday's meeting between Mississippi State and USC Upstate will mark the first on the hardwood for the two programs. The Lady Bulldogs hold an 8-4 mark against Atlantic Sun teams which includes a win last season over East Tennessee State of the Atlantic Sun.
Since Mississippi State's first season opener in 1974, the Lady Bulldogs have cumulated a 24-12 record in season openers. The Lady Bulldogs have won six straight season openers dating back to 2004 and have won eight of its last nine going back to 2001. Also dating back to 1974, the Mississippi State women's basketball team is 34-2 all-time in its home openers. The Lady Bulldogs have not dropped a home opener since 1985, a span of 24 games.