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MSU women still looking for toughness

 

Adam Minichino

 

Mary Kathryn Govero doesn''t have all of the answers. 

 

But the senior guard has played in enough games to know what is ailing the Mississippi State women''s basketball team. 

 

"It just boils down to rebounding the ball better and taking care of it better when we have it," Govero said. "If we do that we will eliminate a lot of the problems we''re having." 

 

Govero and the Lady Bulldogs (8-6, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) will try to implement those fixes at 7 tonight (Fox Sports Net) when they play host to LSU (11-6, 1-2) in a pivotal conference matchup. 

 

MSU, which has lost three in a row, will try not to slip to 0-3 in the league before it has to regroup to play at No. 19 Kentucky on Sunday. 

 

Cold shooting and turnovers have been just two of the problems plaguing the Lady Bulldogs. MSU ended a two-game run of sub-30 percent shooting in a 61-56 loss to then-No. 25 Arkansas on Sunday at Humphrey Coliseum. 

 

The 32.8-percent shooting effort, which included a 20-percent showing (6 of 30) in the first half), didn''t do much except provide a moral victory, of sorts, for the Lady Bulldogs. 

 

But the only focus for MSU coach Sharon Fanning-Otis is getting real victories. She said Wednesday her team continues to develop the chemistry and consistency it will need to put things together. She said she and her assistant coaches are staying positive because everyone knows the team has the pieces if it plays with energy and intensity. 

 

"Our team has to get on a consistent work ethic basis together," Fanning-Otis said. "Whatever the circumstance, we want all of the players to be able to step up with a level of confidence." 

 

Fanning-Otis said the Lady Bulldogs have to build that confidence by playing through stretches like the first half against Arkansas. MSU committed 15 of its 18 turnovers in the first 20 minutes and trailed 30-17 at halftime. The Lady Bulldogs started with plenty of energy before a cold shooting streak allowed the Razorbacks to take a lead they never relinquished. Many of the shots MSU missed were quality looks at the basket it will have to hit if it wants to escape the bottom of the SEC. 

 

Govero feels MSU has had several good practices in the past week and that it is moving to a point in which its hard work will pay dividends in games. She said a key is starting fast and maintaining that work ethic for 40 minutes regardless of what happens in a game. She feels everything starts on defense. 

 

"That''s the one thing we always control: What we''re going to do on the defensive end, even if our shots are not falling," Govero said. "We always have to bring intensity, energy, and hustle on the defensive end. I think that rolls into the offensive end. Whenever we have our energy and intensity up on defense it naturally creates better offensive flow for us. It just gives us more momentum." 

 

Govero, who is second on the team in scoring (11 points per game), said MSU has played like that in spurts but needs to do a better job of attacking the basket, which will create better looks at the basket and more driving lanes. 

 

"I feel like we have been more conscious of (doing) it. Now we have to do it for 40 minutes," Govero said. "We can''t let a team take us out of what we want to do." 

 

LSU has won seven of its past nine games, including a 72-43 victory against the University of Alabama on Sunday. The Tigers lost their first two conference games to Tennessee and South Carolina. They are shooting 40.3 percent from the field this season and 34.1 percent from 3-point range. 

 

Sophomore guard Adrienne Webb leads the team in scoring (12.8 ppg.) followed by junior forward LaSondra Barrett (12.6 ppg.). 

 

LSU is allowing a league-best 53.8 points per game.  

 

 

 

 

Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

 

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