STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State continued its strong play in the Humphrey Coliseum as the Bulldogs knocked off Florida A&M 67-57 in women's basketball action Sunday afternoon.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-5 overall, including a 5-1 mark at home this season. Sunday's victory was the second game in a five-game homestand to round out 2012.
After scoring 15 points against Florida Atlantic last Friday, freshman Sherise Williams used a size advantage down low to score 21 points on Sunday.
"We ran a lot of high-low, and it worked in our favor," Williams said.
Williams connected on 10-of-16 shots from and also added
seven rebounds. Defensively, Williams had three of her squad's eight blocked
shots. Kendra Grant added 12 points, while Martha Alwal fell a point shy of her
fifth double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Alwal also added a block to tie LaToya Thomas for third in school history with 109 for her career.
Like several other games this season, the contest was nip-and-tuck throughout. The Bulldog posted their second-largest margin of victory this season in a contest that featured six ties and 10 lead changes.
The Bulldogs scored the game's first five points, only to have the Rattlers (2-7) respond for a 9-7 advantage. The Bulldogs battled back for a 13-9 lead on a layup by Williams.
"I thought we started the game out well," head coach Vic Schaefer said. "We had a chance to go up eight, but we turned the ball over. Next thing you know, it's tied at seven. You have to commend Florida A&M. They weren't intimidated, and they played hard the whole game. They are a hard match-up."
Thanks to strong shooing from the field, the Bulldogs maintained that slight lead for most of the half. A jumper by Katia May pushed the lead back to 20-16. FAMU battled back for a 25-24 lead before the Maroon and White scored the game's next seven points to take a 32-30 lead to halftime.
In the second half, the Bulldogs turned up the defensive pressure and were able to pull away.
Florida A&M, however, responded with an 11-2 run to take a 47-46 advantage with 9:58 left. The Rattlers would not go away, grabbing two different leads including a 55-53 push with 5:08 left.
A layup by May tied the contest. A steal by Darriel Gaynor led to two free throws by Gaynor, as the hosts grabbed the lead for good. MSU eventually scored the game's next 10 points, building a 63-55 lead with 1:36 left in the contest.
"Darriel made some key plays. She missed a couple of shots, but she had a couple of big steals too," Schaefer said. "She had zero turnovers, which is what I like about her stat line."
"I didn't take a lot of shots this game," Gaynor said. "I was trying to help my team by getting rebounds and steals."
For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 25 of 53 shots from the field (47.2 percent), 1 of 4 shots from 3-point range (25.0 percent) and 16 of 18 shots from the foul line (88.9 percent). The Rattlers hit 22 of 74 shots from the field (29.7 percent), 6 of 23 shots from 3-point range (26.1 percent) and 7 of 8 shots from the foul line (87.5 percent).
Florida A&M held a 40-38 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 19 assists and 20 turnovers, while the Rattlers had 15 assists and 18 turnovers.
The 19 assists for the Bulldogs included five by May and four each by Alwal and Gaynor. Gaynor also had three of her squad's nine steals.
Florida A&M received 18 points from Jasmine Grice, 13 points from Cristal Liriano, 10 points from Patrice Collie and 10 points from Kimberly Sparkman.
MSU hosts its second lunch with the Bulldogs Tuesday before returning to the court against Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. Thursday.