December 14, 2012 9:46:45 AM
Adam Minichino - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- There is no plan to follow for winning a game when you commit 35 turnovers.
But Candace Foster and the Mississippi State University women's basketball team showed last week that if you defend on the other end and do what you have to do, you can have success in what would appear to be unwinnable situations.
Foster, a 5-foot-8 junior guard from Jackson, earned her first start Friday in a 59-58 victory against Florida Atlantic University at Humphrey Coliseum. Even though Foster went 0-for-2 from the field and didn't score, she had five rebounds and three assists, she defended, and she brought energy to help MSU improve to 4-5. Foster's play could earn her another start at 2 p.m. Sunday when MSU plays host to Florida A&M University at Humphrey Coliseum.
"That was great," Foster said of her first start. "It is a long time coming. Prior to that, it can be discouraging just working hard and not being able to let it show, but I was getting opportunities and I just took advantage of it the best I could."
Defending and doing what she needed to do are two of the things Foster takes pride in. She has said several times this season she knows she isn't an offensive dynamo, so she has to do the "little things," like play defense how MSU coach Vic Schaefer wants. She also has to rebound as a guard to help take pressure off the Bulldogs' front-court players.
MSU sophomore guard Kendra Grant said Foster has been doing all of those things and more.
"She did (her job) it the utmost," Grant said. "As she said, coach has always called her the energy player. It was obvious in the game. She may not be the No. 1 scorer, but she is going to get a turnover, she is going to turn the ball, she is going to do what it takes to help herself and help the team."
Foster is averaging 11.6 minutes a game this season. She has scored six points and has eight assists and four turnovers. She had three turnovers Friday in MSU's victory against FAU. The Bulldogs needed late stops in the final minute to secure the victory. Foster said the Bulldogs still have lapses of carelessness that force them sometimes to be their worst enemy. On Friday, MSU shot 50 percent from the field (23 of 46), held a 50-33 rebounding edge, and a 40-18 edge in points in the paint. FAU made up for those categories with a 27-16 edge in points off turnovers.
"There are consequences to everything you do," Foster said when asked if there are consequences the Bulldogs face when they commit a turnover. "That is a point of emphasis for coach, and that's the way you learn from your mistakes, to make sure there are consequences."
The importance of the turnovers is crucial because seven of MSU's games this season have been decided by eight points or less. Schaefer feels the team easily could be 6-3 after losing two games at the buzzer. He likes the way his team competes and knows it has to do a better job limiting the turnovers. He feels those numbers will come down as the team gets more experience.
"It is the first one I have ever coached where we have had 35 turnovers," Schaefer said. "They had 29 more shots and we still won the game.
"When you have 35 turnovers, there are a bunch of ingredients in that recipe. It might be a little bit of that (players playing too quickly). It might be our point guards not treasuring the basketball. ... Our post players re just as much at fault. We are playing Kendra way too many minutes. She had nine turnovers, nine rebounds, and 10 points. I think it is a combination of a lot of things."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.