December 14, 2009 8:08:00 AM
Consider it a lesson learned.
Mississippi State women''s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis believes that''s an ideal way to describe her team''s 72-68 victory Saturday at Louisiana Tech.
The victory came on the heels of a 0-3 showing at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and a victory against Southern Miss on Dec. 2 in Starkville.
The 85-52 victory against Southern Miss was deceiving because Fanning-Otis didn''t feel the Lady Bulldogs (6-3) played with the effort they will need for 40 minutes to realize their potential.
On Saturday, though, she felt the team responded and showed the tenacity it needs and used that energy to rally from a 10-point second-half deficit to earn an important victory in its first true road game of the season.
"We played more competitive basketball in the second half," Fanning-Otis said. "I didn''t think we played as hard as we needed to play in the first half. In the second half I saw a look on their faces where they responded and they were serious about winning."
Fanning-Otis hopes MSU can build on that victory at 7 tonight when it plays host to Samford at Humphrey Coliseum. The game is the first of three this week before the team takes a break for Christmas. MSU will play host to Mississippi Valley State at noon Wednesday and will travel to Xavier, which was ranked No. 8 in last week''s Associated Press Top 25 last week, for a 1 p.m. game Sunday.
Senior guard Alexis Rack led MSU with 32 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range. The Lady Bulldogs overcame foul trouble to seniors Tysheka Grimes and Chanel Mokango to beat the Lady Techsters (4-3) for the third straight time.
"For us to compete and to come back and find a way to get it done (was impressive)," Fanning-Otis said. "Sometimes if things don''t go exactly as planned you have to find a way to play a little harder and find a way to get it done."
Senior guard Armelie Lumanu added a season-high 20 points and had five rebounds, and sophomore guard Diamber Johnson played 28 minutes off the bench to help the Lady Bulldogs overcome their foul problems.
Samford enters tonight''s game at 7-2. It returns four starters from last season''s 22-7 team that finished second in the Southern Conference. Junior guard Emily London leads the Bulldogs in scoring (14.1 points per game).
Fanning-Otis expects a challenge tonight against a team that likes to run a motion offense. She hopes the confidence her players gained from their win at Louisiana Tech will help them build a winning streak to end 2009.
"I was excited about the mental aspect of (Saturday''s victory) and how bad they wanted to win," Fanning-Otis said. "As you have that energy you have to harness it in a positive direction. I think it is a great opportunity to learn from it."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.