Feb. 5, 2006
Starkville, Miss. - Melanie Johnson scored a game-high 18 points and Ilona Burgrova just missed her first career double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds in leading South Carolina to a 51-46 win over Mississippi State at Humphrey Coliseum Sunday.
With the win, the Gamecocks have now won three of their last four SEC games, their last two conference road games and improved to 12-8 overall and 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference, with the Lady Bulldogs dipping to 6-16 overall and 1-8 in the league.
Carolina limited Mississippi State to 23.9 percent shooting from the field and blocked 10 shots in the contest.
The Gamecocks created a little bit of separation early in the second half, opening up a 36-27 lead following a Lea Fabbri free throw. However, Amy Reeder breathed life back into the Lady Bulldogs with back-to-back three-pointers from the corner to cut the lead to 38-34. The teams traded points before MSU guard Miayorka Johnson knocked down a pair of free throws at the 2:39 mark to cut the Gamecock lead to 44-42.
Mississippi State's Blessing Chekwa went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game with just over a minute remaining, but she missed both attempts. Melanie Johnson then gave Carolina a four-point lead with a layup with 53.8 seconds remaining. A quick response from Robin Porter cut the Carolina advantage to 46-44.
Lauren Simms knocked down a free throw to move the lead to 47-44 with 22 seconds remaining before Carolina got a key defensive stand, with Burgrova hauling in the rebound to seal the win. With the Lady Bulldogs forced to foul, Burgrova drained both of her attempts to extend the lead to five points with 11 seconds left and put the game out of reach.
The play of Johnson has often times been a good indicator of South Carolina's success, as the Gamecocks have compiled a 14-3 record during Johnson's career when the Barnwell native scored in double figures.
Entering Sunday's game, South Carolina and Mississippi State had split their last six meetings in the all-time series between the two schools, with the Lady Bulldogs claiming victory in each of the previous three meetings.
The Gamecocks return to action when they host Kentucky at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Colonial Center. The game will be broadcast live on WISW 1320-AM radio in Columbia, with Andy Demetra handling play-by-play and Robin Muller providing analysis.
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