December 16, 2009 9:10:00 AM
Adam Minichino - firstname.lastname@example.org
STARKVILLE -- Armelie Lumanu can pack a stat sheet.
Whether it is points, rebounds, assists, steals, or blocked shots, Lumanu has a variety of ways she can affect a game.
The senior guard''s ability to fill up each column on the final stat sheet will go a long way toward determining the success of the Mississippi State women''s basketball team this season.
If MSU''s 80-41 victory against Samford on Monday is any indication, Lumanu is growing more comfortable doing a handful of things every night for the Lady Bulldogs.
"I am trying to do the best I can," Lumanu said. "I always work hard in practice so we can come here and win."
Lumanu scored 14 points, grabbed nine rebounds, handed out six assists, and made four steals in 29 minutes. She will try to duplicate that effort at noon today when MSU (7-3) plays host to Mississippi Valley State (2-4) at Humphrey Coliseum.
Lumanu''s athleticism stood out against Samford. On two plays, she showed an ability to do things few players in the nation can do. In the first half, she rose up in the lane to catch and inbounds pass to convert a shot from a couple of feet away. Lumanu, who is 5-foot-9, was so high in the air that it looked like her head was even with the rim.
In the second half, she took what almost was an alley oop pass from guard Diamber Johnson on the right wing and converted a layup.
The two plays stood out in a series of 11 or 12 game-changing plays that Lumanu made showcased her ability to be a difference-maker.
Lumanu said there is a big difference in her game from last season, when she averaged 10.7 points and 5.8 rebounds and started all 33 games. Improved free throw shooting (57.4 percent last season compared to 70.7 percent) is just one statistical category in which she has improved. She also is averaging 13.4 points and 5.2 rebounds.
"Her intensity just brings another level to our team," MSU senior guard Alexis Rack said. "Offensively, she is another threat. I don''t think anyone can hold her one on one. Defense, she always had that. I think she is finishing more offensively and has a little more control going in."
But Lumanu, who was a member of the All-SEC Defensive Team last season with teammate Chanel Mokango, still has moments of inconsistency. One instance Monday came in the second half when Lumanu was out of control and was whistled for a charging foul. MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis encouraged Lumanu to settle down and to be more patient. She said Lumanu is doing a good job handling a number of roles -- from point guard to power forward -- this season.
"She is such an athlete that she is a player who makes things happen offensively and defensively," Fanning-Otis said. "It makes us a better basketball team when she is in the state like she is (against Samford).
"You can see how she rebounds. She is learning how to post up and duck in better when we''re isolating her. She is doing a lot of things.
n Ole Miss will try to rebound: At Austin, Texas, The University of Mississippi women''s basketball team will try to return to its winning ways at 7 tonight when it plays No. 17 Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.
Ole Miss (6-3) enters the game following a 79-77 loss to No. 9 Ohio State on Sunday afternoon at Tad Smith Coliseum. The Rebels led 77-67 lead with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left to play, but the Buckeyes closed the contest on a 12-0 run en route to their 10th victory of the season.
All-Southeastern Conference senior guard Bianca Thomas scored a game-high 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds against Texas. She leads the SEC and is fifth in the nation in scoring at 23.9 points per game.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.