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    SEC Women's Basketball Today: November 9

    women's BASkEtBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 97, Jackson State 58
    Auburn 71, Maine 41
    Florida 71, Fairfield 49
    Ole Miss 95, Southeastern Louisiana 85
    Chattanooga 80, Tennessee 71
    South Carolina 77, Elon 44
    Louisville 47, Texas A&M 45
    Missouri 67, St. Louis 51
    Mississippi State 72, Houston 66

    Arkansas tops Jackson State on elementary day
                 
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team (1-0) opened their season on Friday with a 97-58 win over Jackson State (0-1) at Bud Walton Arena in front of more than 3,000 screaming local elementary school children.
                    
    Arkansas was led by sophomore Calli Berna, who shot 5-6 from three point range and finished the game with a career high 22 points. Also making an impact for the Razorbacks was Quistelle Williams who added a career high 17 points and gathered seven rebounds. Sophomore Jhasmin Bowen had the games only double-double with a career high 14 points and a career high 10 rebounds.  Head coach Tom Collen thought the atmosphere at the first game led to a victory.
                    
    “Elementary day creates a lot of energy,” Collen said. “I can’t think of a better way to open the season. Seeing that many people in the stands really energizes our players. They helped us fight back and put the game away.”
                    
    The contest started with Arkansas jumping out to a 15-6 advantage to start the game behind five quick points from Berna including a transition three-pointer, two minutes into the game. Berna had 11 first half points to lead the Hogs and was 3-4 from behind the three point arc. After the run by Arkansas, Jackson State fought back to cut the lead to one point at 19-18. A close battle followed with both teams exchanging baskets for the next five minutes before the Razorbacks closed the half on a 12-3 run to lead at the break, 42-34.
                    
    The second half began with another Calli Berna three ball, giving her four on the day. Coach Collen was impressed with the sophomore’s performance.
                    
    “We have encouraged her to not turn down open threes,” Collen said. “Today she was hitting them. It was good to see her step up and be aggressive.”

    The Razorbacks started the half on a 16-5 run and this time did not let the Tigers back into the game. Williams was the leading scorer in the second half with 11 points on 5-6 shooting and also added a three pointer. The defensive pressure turned up and held Jackson State to 22 percent shooting in the half. Arkansas’ offense also improved to shoot 63 percent after spreading the floor in the second half. The Razorbacks finished the game with 26 assists and only 11 turnovers.  
                    
    Next up, Arkansas will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Tulsa on Nov. 15 to take on the Golden Hurricane.
     



    Williams-Flournoy Era Begins At Auburn With 71-41 Win Over Maine
     
    RALEIGH, N.C. – The Terri Williams-Flournoy Era got off to a good start Friday as the Auburn women’s basketball team beat Maine, 71-41, in the first round of the Sheraton Raleigh Wolfpack Invitational. The Tigers will take on host North Carolina State at 6:30 p.m. CT, Saturday at Reynolds Coliseum.
     
    The host Wolfpack downed Wofford 85-45 in the tournament opener. Wofford and Maine will play at 4 p.m. CT, Saturday with Auburn and North Carolina State following at 6:30 p.m. CT. The game between the Tigers and Wolfpack will be streamed on WatchESPN.com.
     
    “Getting the win was exciting, I really thought they came out and played hard,” said Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. “After that first media timeout, we got the jitters out of our system and came out and played really well.”
     
    Williams-Flournoy became just the second Auburn head coach to earn a win in their first game on the Tiger sideline. Susan “The Nun” Nunnelly is the only other coach to do so, winning the season opener over Tuskegee at the start of the 1973-74 season.
     
    Sophomore Hasina Muhammad led three Tigers in double figures, tying her career high with 20 points. It also marked the second game in a row for her to score 20 with the other being in the SEC Tournament game against Florida last season. Junior Tyrese Tanner neared a double-double with 15 points and a career-high nine rebounds while Najat Ouardad scored a career-high 11 points with six assists and a pair of steals.
     
    “We have to have kids that can score the basketball and when you get three that can score in double figures, that is a good game,” said Williams-Flournoy. “I thought Najat did a good job running the team. Hasina and Tyrese both found open shots and did a good job of hitting those shots.”
     
    Another component to the game was the Tigers’ defense, forcing 26 Maine turnovers. Blanche Alverson led Auburn with three steals, along with eight points and six rebounds. Ouardad and Muhammad added two steals each. The Tigers were able to capitalize off the turnovers, scoring 28 points on the other end.
     
    “That’s what we do,” said Williams-Flournoy. “Pressure, pressure, pressure, trap, trap, trap. We get the ball and we go.”
     
    Maine jumped on the Tigers early, taking its largest lead at 8-4 after a jumper from Anna Heise with 14:58 to go in the first half. Auburn responded with a 13-2 run, fueled by five points from Muhammad, to take a 17-10 lead. The Black Bears battled back and trailed by just three, 22-19, with 3:43 left in the half, but it was all Tigers from that point on.
     
    Auburn closed the half on a 13-4 run to take a 35-23 lead into the locker room at halftime. Muhammad led Auburn with 10 points off the bench in the opening period.
     
    The Tigers kept rolling to start the second half, holding Maine to just six points for almost 14 minutes of the second half. Meanwhile Auburn had extended its lead to more than 30 points, a margin it would keep until the final buzzer. The Tigers led by as many as 35 points late in the second half.
     
    Heise led Maine in the loss with 12 points. Mikaela Gustafsson came off the bench for nine points while Chantel Charles pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.
     
    The Tigers shot 41.4 percent from the field, holding the Black Bears to just 33.3 percent. Auburn hit 10 3-pointers as a team with Muhammad and Ouardad knocking down three each. The Tigers also out-rebounded Maine, 40-35, with 15 of those boards coming on the offensive end, turning in to 23 second-chance points.
     
    The meeting with North Carolina State on Saturday will be the third all-time meeting between the programs with Auburn holding a 2-0 series lead. The last meeting was a 66-51 Tiger win in the FIU Thanksgiving Classic in 2008. The Wolfpack is led by Kellie Jolly Harper, who was an assistant coach at Auburn under Joe Ciampi during the 2000-01 season.
     



    Florida Women’s Basketball Debuts Young Team and Success in Win Against Fairfield, 71-49

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Freshman Sydney Moss (Union, Ky.) nearly had a triple-double in her Gator debut Friday night as her nine points, 10 rebounds and nine assists helped the University of Florida women’s basketball team to a 71-49 season-opening win over Fairfield in the O’Connell Center.

    Moss, who logged 29 minutes in her first collegiate game, stepped up big for the Gators with her all-around play, but it was the play of many new Gator faces that contributed to the solid 22 point victory. Junior Vicky McIntyre (Omaha, Neb.) and sophomore Kayla Lewis (Decatur, Ga.) led the Gators in scoring with 12 each, while it was Moss who controlled the boards and led all players with her 10 rebounds.

    It was very much a team-effort on the court Friday as all nine players who dressed out recorded at least three points in the scorebook. For Moss, her nine assists not only led the team, but it was the most for a Gator in her debut since Sarah Lowe recorded six against Lamar on November 24, 2002.

    “There are a lot of things about this team that will emerge as strengths,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler said. “We had some great individual performances, but I think that is going to be what makes us hard to guard each and every night. It is going to be really tough to focus in on just one person. Especially starting the season with as much attention as Jennifer has received with her being our only senior has created a little bit of a misperception that if you can stop Jennifer George then you can stop Florida. These guys showed that we are much more than a one dimensional team.”

    For Butler, it was also her 99th win as the Gator head coach in her career, putting her one shy of the century mark.

    The new-look Gators got a quick start from some of their new faces early in the game. Moss scored the first Florida points of the season after scoring on a put-back of her own shot, but Fairfield actually held the early lead before the first break in the game.

    Florida started to get warm after a turnaround jumper from McIntyre followed by a steal and a fast-break layup by freshman Chandler Cooper (Clarksville, Tenn.) to give the Orange and Blue the 6-5 lead, its first lead of the game going into the first media timeout.

    The Stags had a hot hand early on going up by as much as six through the first five minutes, but UF started to find its shooting touch just before the midway point of the first half and went on an 11-0 run to re-take the lead at 20-15 with 10:10 to go in the first half.

    During that run, freshman Carlie Needles (Highlands Ranch, Col.) also got her first points as a Gator with a three-pointer from the right wing off a nice assist from Cooper. Those points were then followed by another three-ball, this time from Lewis to tie the game at 15. McIntyre dropped in another bucket down low before another three from Lewis to complete the run.

    Three-pointers were a common occurrence for UF early as three of its first seven made shots from the field all were from behind the arc. For the half, Florida shot nearly 46 percent on three-pointers (5-of-11).

    Fairfield was able to score five straight points to get the game back even at 20 with 6:42 to go in the half, but it would be the last points the Stags scored until nearly halftime.

    The Gators behind strong defense were able to cause a number of turnovers and went on a 14-0 run over three minutes of play to break the game wide open. Five different Gators scored during the run to take a 34-20 lead with 3:45 to play in the half. Fairfield did score two more buckets before the first half buzzer, but it was the Gators who had the nice 34-24 lead at the break.

    Defense and a quick pace was the key to UF taking a big lead into halftime as it caused 13 Fairfield turnovers and scored 19 points off of those turnovers.

    Lewis led all scorers in the first frame with 10 points, followed by McIntyre, who added in eight points and was 4-of-6 from the field. As a team, Florida was 13-of-33 (39.4%) from the field and held Fairfield to 18 percent three-point shooting.

    Out of the locker room in the second half, Florida had a little trouble pulling away from the Stags as the lead dropped down to as low as five points with 12:10 to go in the game, but freshman Christin Mercer (Douglasville, Ga.) got in on the action as she drained three straight buckets for the Gators to push their lead back to double-digits at 52-42 with 8:56 to play. Mercer ended up with eight points in the game and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field.

    The five-point deficit earlier in the second half was the closest Fairfield got for the remainder of the game as Florida continued to play with pressing defense and fast break scoring. As a team, UF scored 14 points on fast break and 31 points off Fairfield’s 24 turnovers.

    For the remaining eight minutes in the game, Florida kept its lead above double-digits as both team’s traded buckets for over three minutes. After a made layup by Fairfield’s Katie Cizynski to make the score 56-46 with 6:34 to play, UF went on a big scoring spree to end the game. 13 of the final 16 points in the game went for the Orange and Blue as the final buzzer sounded with the 22-point win, which was its biggest lead of the night.

    The Gators finished the game shooting an even 46 percent from the field and was a solid 6-of-19 from behind the three-point line. The solid defense that included 16 steals held Fairfield to 19-of-56 and 18 percent three-point shooting.

    Florida returns to the court this Sunday when it takes on Georgia State inside the O’Connell Center with tip slated for 1 p.m. It will be the first game of a Gator double-header as the men’s team will also be playing its first home regular season game against Alabama State starting at 3:30 p.m. Fans can purchase a ticket to the women’s game only until halftime of the contest.
     



    Ole Miss' Moore Leads Rebels Past SELA, 95-85

    OXFORD, Miss. – Junior Diara Moore led all scorers with a career-high 25 points as the Ole Miss women’s basketball team won its season opener, beating SELA 95-85 Friday night in front of a crowd of 1,813.

    With the win, Ole Miss improved to 1-0 while SELA fell to 0-1.  Kenyotta Jenkins recorded her second career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds while Courtney Marbra tied her career high with 12 points. Amber Singletary also finished in double figures with 11 points and Gracie Frizzell added a career-best 10.  

    With the win, Ole Miss improved to 33-6 all-time in season openers. The Rebels have won 10 of their last 11 season openers dating back to 2002-03 and have not lost a season opener at home since 1998. The win also marked the first career head coaching victory for Rebel acting head coach Brett Frank.

    Ole Miss used a 10-6 run, including a three by Maggie McFerrin to go up 22-15 with 11:50 to play. SELA responded with a 14-4 run to go ahead 27-26 with 7:53 to play.

    SELA pushed its lead to 38-34 with 3:49 left in the half. The Rebels tied the game at 42-42 on a pair of free throws with 58.7 seconds left in the half.  The Rebels used an 8-1 run to end the half as they lead, 46-42.

    Diara Moore led the Rebels with 12 points while Kenyotta Jenkins added nine points and six rebounds. Ole Miss shot 42.1 percent (16-38) from the floor while SELA shot 39.4 percent (13-33).

    Ole Miss opened the second half with a 6-0 run to go ahead 52-45 with 18:02 left in the game. Amber Singletary’s three with 7:48 left in the game pushed Ole Miss’ lead to 74-64.

    For the game, Ole Miss shot 45.1 percent from the floor (32-71) while SELA shot 45.6 percent (26-57). The Rebels out rebounded the Lions 43-41 in the game.

    The Rebels will host Northwestern State on Friday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. in the annual Kid’s Day Game.
     




    Lady Vols Open With 80-71 Loss At Chattanooga

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Tennessee opened the 2012-13 season with a tough 80-71 defeat at Chattanooga on Friday night at McKenzie Arena. The Lady Vols were led by Meighan Simmons, who scored 23 points. Sophomore Isabelle Harrison had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

    Freshman Bashaara Graves had 14 points and eight rebounds in her debut.

    The loss came in the debut of Holly Warlick as head coach of the Lady Vols (0-1). A long-time assistant, Warlick replaced Hall of Famer Pat Summitt, who stepped down as coach during the offseason after 38 years at the helm of the Lady Vols.

    The Lady Mocs (1-0) were led by Taylor Hall, who had 24 points and nine rebounds as Chattanooga beat the Lady Vols for the first time in 20 meetings. UTC's last win over Tennessee came in 1973.

    UTC had three others in double-figures: Alex Black (14), Kayla Christopher (11) and Ashlen Dwart (10).

    With the game tied at 28 all at halftime, Chattanooga opened the second half outscoring the Lady Vols, 15-7, as they took a 43-35 lead on a Dewart jumper with 16:13 left in the half.

    The Lady Mocs continued to maintain the lead throughout the second half. The lead moved to 10 at 52-42, on an Black jumper with 11:37 left in the half. Tennessee battled back to within six (53-47) and seven on several occasions, but was never able to overcome the deficit.

    Freshman Jasmine Jones hit a jumper with 1:11 left to cut the margin to seven, 72-65, forcing UTC to call a timeout.

    The Lady Mocs made their free throws down the stretch to secure the win. Chattanooga made all eight foul shots in the final minute for the the nine-point win.

    The Lady Vols stood tied at 28 all at halftime as Massengale sank a halfcourt shot at the buzzer. Graves had nine points and seven rebounds in the first half of her debut as a collegian.

    Chattanooga went on a 13-0 run to rally from a 20-11 deficit to lead 24-20 with 1:52 left in the first half as Kylie Lambert made a free throw. The Lady Vols were held scoreless for more than six minutes before Graves hit a layup with 1:31 left in the first half.

    Tennessee pounded UTC on the glass in the first half, 25-12, but committed 17 turnovers to even out the advantage.

    Tennessee continues its two-game road trip to open the season at Georgia Tech on Sunday at 2 p.m. That game will be available on ESPN3 and can be heard on the Lady Vol Network.






    South Carolina defeats Elon 77-44

    COLUMBIA, S. C. - South Carolina women’s basketball defeated Elon 77-44 at Colonial Life Arena Friday night in the season opener for both teams. Seniors Ashley Bruner and Ieasia Walker led the way offensively, posting 28 of South Carolina’s 77 points, but points came from all sources as the Gamecocks shot 56.7 percent from the field and turned 22 Elon turnovers into 34 points. Sophomore Elem Ibiam and Asia Dozier each pulled down double-figure rebounds, marking the first time a pair of Gamecocks hit the mark since March 4, 2010 against Ole Miss.

    The Gamecocks applied pressure early against the Phoenix, opening a 6-0 lead in the first 90 seconds of the game. The lead expanded quickly to 21-5 before Elon found its footing. Bruner posted nine points in the first half to lead the team, while sophomore forward Aleighsa Welch and Walker closely followed Bruner with seven each.

    After building a 10-2 lead, Walker then sparked an 11-point run for South Carolina while the team defense forced a series of Elon turnovers. Bruner and Walker combined for nine of the eleven points in the surge, including Walker’s pull-up jumper from the left elbow to make it a 21-5 advantage with 12:43 left in the half. As the Gamecocks went to the bench, Elon made a surge, pulling within seven points with 5:27 left in the half, capitalizing on free throws and a pair of steals the generated easier baskets.

    Freshman Tiffany Davis came on strong in the closing minutes of the half, applying solid defensive pressure at the point while scoring four straight points to push the Gamecocks back up 36-23. She closed the half with another transition layup to send South Carolina into the locker room with a 41-25 lead at the break.  The Gamecocks continued to stretch their lead in the second half as the Phoenix could not answer the defensive pressure.

    Ibiam’s 11 rebounds were a career high, as were her six on the offensive glass, while Dozier reeled in 10. Welch narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and nine boards on the night. Three other Gamecocks finished with six or more points in the balanced offensive effort.

    South Carolina heads on the road next, traveling Louisiana Tech for an 8 p.m. (ET) tipoff on Mon., Nov. 12. The Gamecocks then host a pair of games next weekend, beginning with Savannah State on Thu., Nov. 15, and closing with archrival Clemson on Sun., Nov. 18.
     




    Late Bucket Pushes No. 9 Cardinals Past Aggies

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Jude Schimmel's steal and layup with 24 seconds remaining gave No. 9 Louisville a 47-45 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M Friday night.
        
    With the game tied at 45, A&M tried to inbound the ball at midcourt and Schimmel swooped in to grab it and put Louisville ahead.

    Kelsey Bone had a chance to tie it but missed a layup with 11 seconds remaining. Sara Hammond got the rebound for the Cardinals, drawing a foul.

    The sophomore missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Aggies got the ball, but Alexia Standish missed a shot in the lane in the final seconds and the Cardinals tied up the loose ball to seal the victory.

    Hammond had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Louisville, while senior center Monique Reid added 10 points in her first game since sustaining a season-ending knee injury last December.

    Shoni Schimmel added eight points for the Cardinals, who shot 39.6 percent and improved to 21-17 in season openers. Louisville also won its second in three games against Texas A&M.

    Bone's 14 points led the Aggies, who shot 31.6 percent and committed 24 turnovers.

    After a ragged first half in which Texas A&M trailed 31-21, the Aggies came out sharper in the second and slowly cut into the lead. After scoring seven straight points to close within 37-30 with 10:49 remaining, they followed with a 12-4 run capped by Bone's two free throws for a 42-41 lead, their first since leading 5-4 after 3 1/2 minutes.

    But for those first 20 minutes it looked as if Schimmel and Hammond would comprise Louisville's offense.

    They combined for Louisville's first 17 points with Hammond scoring nine on a combination of drives and follows. Schimmel contributed short to medium range shots that helped counter Texas A&M man's pressure.

    The Aggies stayed close for about 10 minutes running few plays through 6-foot-4 Bone.

    The momentum changed when Reid entered the game with 8:46 remaining in the first half.

    That brought a big cheer from the crowd along with some energy to the Cardinals. And any questions about rustiness or mobility were answered 31 seconds later when she quickly drove to the basket to give Louisville a 19-13 lead and another scoring option.

    After a Hammond follow, Reid by scored the next two baskets before a Hammond drive provided a 27-13 lead to cap a 13-0 run that forced the Aggies to call timeout.

    Texas A&M struggled against Louisville's man-to-man defense, committing 17 turnovers. Bone finished the half with 10 points but the Aggies shot just 9 of 21 (42.9 percent).

    Louisville was slightly better (43.8 percent) thanks to Hammond, Schimmel and Reid, who combined to shoot 13 for 22. The other Cardinals were 1 for 10.
     




    Tigers Pull Away in Second Half for 67-51 Win

    Columbia, Mo. - Newcomer Bri Kulas led the way for Mizzou (1-0) as they overcame a slow start to pull away from St. Louis in the second half, winning their season opener by a final score of 67-51 on Friday (Nov. 9) night in Mizzou Arena. Kulas, who shined in the exhibition contest against Lindenwood, posted a game-high 18 points for Missouri as the Tigers took the Battle for Missouri against the in-state rival Billikens. Freshman Maddie Stock also was impressive in her first regular season collegiate game, posting 11 points.

    Liene Priede opened the scoring by hitting one of two free throws that resulted from a foul while she was attacking the rim for a layup. St. Louis quickly answered with a layup, taking an early 2-1 lead. Kulas then stepped up for the Tigers, making a layup to regain the lead, but the Billikens hit a pull-up jumper to regain the lead at the under-16 timeout, 4-3. St. Louis scored first after the break too, building their lead to 6-3. Kulas then sunk two straight threes, giving the Tigers a 9-6 lead. After a SLU three tied it, Stock connected on a layup to give the Tigers an 11-9 advantage.

    After the under-12 timeout, St. Louis hit three of four free throws, taking advantage of sound offensive rebounding to take a 14-12 lead. Stock responded with a three, and Lianna Doty took advantage of a turnover by converting a transition layup for a 16-12 lead. Sydney Crafton added to the Missouri lead with a layup off a brilliant entry pass, making is 18-12. St. Louis quickly responded, though, hitting two free throws on their next possession before the under-8 timeout.

    Stock scored first when play resumed, hitting a three from the corner to boost the Mizzou lead to 21-14, but St. Louis answered with a three of their own. Crafton then made a layup on the Tigers' next possession, and Kulas nailed a wide-open three to put Mizzou ahead 26-17. SLU responded with seven straight points, all from the free throw line, cutting the deficit to three. Darian Saunders ended the run with a layup off of an offensive rebound, putting Mizzou up 28-24, and then she added a free throw to put build the lead to five. After two Billiken free throws, Morgan Eye connected on a three pointer to build the Tigers lead to 32-26. St. Louis connected on a three with seven seconds remaining in the half, making the score 32-29 favoring the Tigers as the teams headed to the locker room.
     
    St. Louis opened the scoring in the second half with a two, but the Tigers answered with back-to-back threes by Stock and Kyley Simmons to put the Tigers back up seven, 38-31. St. Louis came out of their timeout by hitting a jumper in the lane, but Saunders answered with a mid-range jumper of her own. St. Louis answered minutes later with a bucket to make it 40-35, but Eye hit another triple to build the Tiger lead to eight. Kulas then made a shot from the paint to put the Tigers ahead by 10 at the under-12 timeout.

    It was Mizzou coming out hot again after the break, with Eye and Bree Fowler hitting back-to-back threes to build the lead to 16. Crafton hit a jumper after a SLU free throw, making the score 53-36 at the under-8 timeout. The teams traded buckets after the break, with SLU getting the better of the exchange as they cut the lead to 55-43. After a timeout by Missouri, Kulas hit another jumper to put the Tigers up 14, but that was quickly matched by the Billikens on the other end.

    After the under-4 timeout, Saunders made a shot that was answered by SLU, but Kulas hit a three to tack on to her game-high total of 18 points and put Mizzou up 62-47. Doty hit a three to add to the Tiger lead, making it 65-47. SLU hit two free throws, and Doty connected twice from the line with 15 seconds remaining before the Billikens made another shot to make the final score 67-51.

    The Tigers' next game is against Chicago State, a home game at 7 p.m. on Monday (Nov 12). For all the latest on Missouri Tigers Women's Basketball, follow the team on Twitter (@MissouriWBB) or check in to MUTigers.com.
     



    Alwal, Grant Have Career Nights as Bulldogs Down Houston
     
    STARKVILLE, Miss. –New Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer has promised a squad which competes with relentless effort and plays hard on both ends of the floor.
     
    Fans of the Bulldogs saw all that and a victory Friday night in Schaefer’s coaching debut. Behind a double-double from Martha Alwal, MSU opened the season with a 72-66 win over Houston in the Humphrey Coliseum.
     
    Alwal finished with a career-high 23 points and 18 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end. Alwal’s big night included four blocked shots on the defensive end and 9-of-10 foul shooting on the offensive end. Kendra Grant also tallied a career-best points tally, notching 22 in the contest.
     
    Alwal also blocked four shots, giving her 86 for her young MSU career to tie Sharon Thompson for fourth in the school record books.
     
    “I am really proud of the way the kids played tonight,” Schaefer said. “This game was a great reward for their hard work. These kids have worked harder than they ever have in their lives. Seeing them rewarded with a victory and competing until the very end was satisfying.”
     
    State built an early seven-point lead and led by four points at halftime. MSU only trailed twice in the game’s final 20 minutes.
     
    “Last year all I thought about was defense,” Alwal said. “I didn’t care for scoring. This year coach (Schaefer) is pushing me to get more involved in offense and that’s what I’m focused on. When we (Grant and Alwal) do well, I feel like everyone else feeds off of us. If we continue to do well, as we’re doing right now, thEn it’ll help the team a lot more.”
     
    The Bulldogs grabbed their first lead at 4-3 on a layup by Alwal. Houston regrouped for a 9-2 run and a 12-6 advantage. The Bulldogs then got a lift from the second-five as it helped piece together a 7-0 run for an 18-17 lead. Jessy Ward’s first-career three-pointer brought the Maroon and White within one, and an Alwal layup pushed the squad ahead.
     
    MSU held Houston to 28 percent first-half shooting from the field and led 32-28 at the intermission.
     
    “Defense was the most impressive part of the game,” Grant said. “Our biggest thing the past couple of games has been rebounding. I feel like we did a lot better than in our last game (a 55-49 exhibition win over Shorter).”
     
    A basket by Grant ran the MSU advantage to nine points at 38-29 with 17:45 left to play. Houston rallied for a 43-42 advantage and also led 49-47 with 10:36 remaining.
     
    A 3-point play by Alwal gave the hosts the lead for good with 9:42 left in regulation.

    Houston got as close as three, 63-60, with 3:12 to play, but senior Darriel Gaynor drained a three from the left corner to give MSU a two-possession lead it would not relinquish.
     
    For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 22 of 69 shots from the field (31.9 percent), 3 of 8 shots from 3-point range (37.5 percent) and 25 of 34 shots from the foul line (73.5 percent). The Cougars hit 25 of 79 shots from the field (31.6 percent), 5 of 26 shots from 3-point range (19.2 percent) and 11 of 15 shots from the foul line (73.3 percent).
     
    MSU held a 65-39 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 26 turnovers, while the Cougars had 11 assists and 17 turnovers.
     
    The 65 boards and 34 trips to the charity stripe were the most since the 2009-10 team had 71 rebounds and 37 free-throw attempts against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
     
    Grant and Sherise Williams each had nine rebounds for MSU. Katia May had four assists, and Darriel Gaynor had two of her squad’s four steals.
     
    Houston received 16 points from Porsche Landry, 12 points from Marissa Ashton and 10 points from Jessieka Palmer.
     
    MSU remains home for a 7 p.m. start Monday against Hampton. The Lady Pirates opened the season with a 78-41 win over Southern Mississippi Friday afternoon in Hattiesburg.