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MSU women's cruise to exhibition victory


Adam Minichino



STARKVILLE -- Attack mode is the right way to go for Mary Kathryn Govero, Tysheka Grimes, and the rest of the Mississippi State women''s basketball team.  


The Lady Bulldogs were in the right frame of mind for the better part of Sunday afternoon as they cruised to a 106-34 victory against Division II Arkansas-Monticello in an exhibition game at Humphrey Coliseum.  


Govero, a junior guard, and senior guard Alexis Rack tied for game-high scoring honors with 27 points, while Grimes, a senior guard/forward, and senior center Rima Kalonda scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.  


The Lady Bulldogs raced to a 14-0 lead and never were challenged against an undersized opponent.  


Still, MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis saw plenty of things her team will have to improve on before 5 p.m. Friday, when it tips off the regular season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.  


"I thought we were playing to a different level (in the beginning of the second half), which is not what we need to do," Fanning-Otis said. "We picked it up in spurts, but the second half, I am not pleased with." 


MSU led 63-22 at halftime thanks in part to the efforts of Govero (18 points) and Grimes (14). Both players, who started for stretches of last season, started Sunday and gave the Lady Bulldogs plenty of scoring options.  


Govero was 8 of 10 (3 of 4 from 3-point range) and Grimes was 6 of 14 shooting from the field.  


Govero, who started 23 of 33 games last season, said it is important for everyone to be a threat, especially because teams know about Rack, a first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick last season and a preseason first-teamer this season. She said all of the Lady Bulldogs have to be prepared to take shots to prevent opponents from double- or triple-teaming Rack.  


Grimes feels the same way. 


"I feel that is just everybody and that we all are starting to get to the point where we have to step up to the level of competition we have ahead of us," said Grimes, who started 10 games last season.  


Rack was 9 of 14 (6 of 11 from 3-point range) with seven steals.  


She said she noticed a difference in the play of Govero and Grimes. 


"I think they always had confidence," Rack said. "I think they are being more aggressive. I think they were in attack mode all of the time. They are going to help us win more."  


Govero and Grimes agreed it doesn''t make any difference whether they start or come off the bench. They said their goal is to do whatever it takes to help the team win.  


"I feel like I still will bring the same intensity and the same kind of threat when I am in the game," Grimes said.  


Fanning-Otis said the Lady Bulldogs should have enough depth that it shouldn''t matter whether who is in the starting lineup this season. She said players like Kalonda, senior forward Bethany Washington, senior center Channa Campbell, sophomore guard Diamber Johnson, and sophomore forward/center Danielle Rector will have to play bigger roles because the chances to contribute will be there.  


"I think we should have five people in double figures every game," Fanning-Otis said. "It is going to be very important to us that we have people coming off the bench who can step up and give people a rest but also give us something when they come in. Hopefully, that will develop as we play these next couple of games."  


n NOTES: Fanning-Otis said junior guard Ashlie Billingslea, a transfer from Chipola College (Fla.), didn''t dress out for the game because she violated unspecified team rules. She said Billingslea will practice with the team, but her availability to play in games will be determined as it goes. ... Senior center Chanel Mokango and freshman guard/forward Ashley Jones both wore protective boots on the bench and didn''t play Sunday due to shin splints. Fanning-Otis said both players were kept out of action for precautionary reasons and will be re-evaluated today. ... Grimes also had five rebounds and five steals in 23 minutes. She left the game walking slowly and favoring her knees. She spent the last part of the game rubbing her left knee while she was sitting in the front row of the bleachers off to the side of the MSU bench. She said she suffers from tendonitis and her joints tend to lock up when she lands too hard or stops too quickly. She said that is why she had surgery on her right knee before the start of last season. "It hurt," Grimes said. "It is just a temporary thing." ... Kalonda also had seven rebounds in 22 minutes. She scored 48 points in 28 games (9.5 minutes per game) last season.  



Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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