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December 30, 2010

Bulldogs road trip ends with loss

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Mississippi State's massive 14-day road trip ended with a 94-72 loss to St. Mary's in the 2010 Shamrock Showcase played Wednesday night at Orleans Arena.

The outmanned Bulldogs hung tough but could not force enough positive plays on the defensive end. The West Conference Conference-member Gales only made three turnovers, while hitting 14 3-point baskets.

"Our guys competed," MSU head coach Rick Stansbury said. "We had a 10-point game with about 13 minutes left to play. St. Mary's is skilled enough. When they shoot it like they did tonight, they can beat anybody anywhere."

St. Mary's ran its offense to near perfection. The Gaels had an amazing 21 assists, while not making a turnover until the 13:44 mark of the game's final half. St Mary's shot better than 50 percent from the floor and hit all 10 free throws it took.

The Bulldogs (8-6) actually scored the first four points of the game and were last tied 7-7. The Gaels (11-2) scored the next five points of the game and eased out to a 19-11 advantage on a Rob Jones' 3-point basket.

The Bulldogs battled back to a 21-16 deficit before back-to-back 3-point baskets from Jones allowed the Gaels to seize the momentum for good. The Gaels led by at least nine the remainder of the half, including a 51-34 advantage at halftime.

"Really it is hard to get out there and pressure them," Stansbury said. "They shoot deep shots. They are so clever. Really, they aren't that quick but they are quick enough. You have to get out and contest shots and not let them go around you."

The Bulldogs did string together some defensive stops and pieced together their own run. A 9-2 burst allowed the Bulldogs to close within 63-53 with slightly more than 13 minutes remaining in the contest.

An 11-0 run by the Gaels, which again included back-to-back 3-point baskets - this time by Matthew Dellavedova, allowed the opposition to move back out of danger.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 21 of 46 shots from the field (45.7 percent), 6 of 15 shots from 3-point range (40.0 percent) and 24 of 34 shots from the foul line (70.6 percent). The Gaels hit 35 of 67 shots from the field (52.2 percent), 14 of 30 shots from 3-point range (46.7 percent) and 10 of 10 shots from the foul line (100.0 percent).

MSU held a 33-29 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had seven assists and 11 turnovers, while the Gaels had 21 assists and three turnovers.

For St. Mary's, Mickey McConnell had a double-double with 28 points and an amazing 13 assists with only one turnover in 40 minutes of action. Dellavedova added 24 points, including a 6-of-10 night from behind the arc. Jones added 15 points and Mitchell Young added 12 points.

MSU received 26 points from Ravern Johnson. Riley Benock added 13 points, while Kodi Augustus added 12 points, before fouling out late. Wendell Lewis had a game-high nine rebounds.

The Bulldogs were scheduled to return home early Thursday morning. A much-needed break takes place before the New Year ushers in Southeastern Conference play. MSU's defense of its Western Division title begins on January 8th when Alabama comes to the Humphrey Coliseum. Game time is set for 3 p.m., while the SEC Network will have the regional telecast.

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