Lady Tigers Defeat 15th-Ranked Mississippi State
Nov. 21, 2000
MEMPHIS, TENN. - The University of Memphis Lady Tiger basketball team knocked off the 15th ranked Bulldogs of Mississippi State on Tuesday evening, 88-82 in front of 2,117 fans. The Lady Tigers are now 2-0 thus far, with both victories coming against SEC opponents while the Bulldogs fall to 0-1.
"Whew, what a ballgame," said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. I'm sweating as much as they (the players) are sweating. It was a great, great win. What I think about is our very first team meeting when we talked about raising the bar. We have made a lot of progress in raising the bar.
"I am very proud of our win," added McNelis. "We played very hard. I was a bit disappointed at how we got rattled at times. We began to panick down the stretch as Mississippi State closed the gap. This was a solid team win as everyone made this happen. We have to continue to get better because we have a long ways to go. we can't sit back and get satisfied."
The main attraction wasn't the game itself, but the duel between All-American candidates LaToya Thomas of Mississippi State and senior guard Tiffany Adkins of Memphis. Thomas carried the Bulldogs for the duration of the game and finished with a double-double of 48 points and 10 rebounds. Adkins was equally impressive, with a career high 37 points and finishing only one board shy of collecting her second double-double, in as many games. Thomas' 48 points set an MSU school record and was the most points ever scored at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse by either Memphis or an opponent.
Thomas was a one-man highlight film, scoring the first 18 points for MSU and was a serious threat from all over the floor. Adkins, aside from the opening bucket by junior guard Lauren Jackson, went on to score the next seven points for the U of M, and helped Memphis cruise out to an early 9-5 lead early into the game. Both players were on fire in the first half, as Thomas dropped in 23 and Adkins answered with 19 points including a key three-pointer which increased the Lady Tigers' lead by 12 with just under three minutes left in the half.
Mississippi State got as close as two after a pair of free throws by Thomas, which made the score 26-24 with seven minutes remaining in the half. The Lady Tigers then answered back with an 8-0 run capped by a 15 foot jumper by Adkins. Memphis actually led by as many as 15 in the first half and went into halftime, enjoying a 46-33 lead.
Memphis then came out strong in the second half, and held a 17-point advantage nearly three minutes into the second period. MSU stayed relatively close in the following minutes but the Lady Tigers opened up another 17-point lead that seemed to spell the end for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State battled back though, and crept within four points at 86-82 with a little over a minute remaining in regulation but couldn't get over hump and dropped their first contest of the season.
"The one thing I want to commend are the fans that were here tonight," said McNelis. "In the final four minutes of the game, they were the major key. I really and truly do not think that we could have won the game without the fans. They were loud, active and into the ballgame, and it really helped us keep the momentum going."
The Lady Tigers return to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse Friday to open the Lady Tiger Classic against East Tennessee St. at 6 p.m. Texas A&M and Northwestern State will face each other at 8 p.m. The consolation game will be played on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the championship game to follow.