Students from local schools filled the Pavilion on Tuesday morning as the Ole Miss women’s basketball team defeated the University of Southern Mississippi 68-59.
“I want to thank the local community of Oxford and all the surrounding communities that let their kids get out of school today and come watch us play,” Ole Miss Head Coach Matt Insell said.
“Overall great win,” he added. “[We are] very much injury-prone, and we are working through that every day.”
Ole Miss (9-1) had three players score double figures against the Lady Eagles. Juniors Madinah Muhammad and Alissa Alston both scored 19 points in the game. Cecilia Muhate was right on their heels with 10 points of her own.
“I think Alissa Alston is continuing to make a lot of improvements … I think she is one of the top 10 point guards in the country, not only in the league,” Insell said. “She gets better every single day. The thing that is most impressive about her [is] she could care less about how many points she scores. The only thing she cares about is Ole Miss winning. [Alston] does everything the right way.”
The Rebels never looked back after breaking a 2-2 tie with a bucket by Alston at the 7:12 mark of the first quarter. Ole Miss opened the game up by scoring 11 unanswered points in the first 10 minutes of action.
In the second quarter, Southern Miss cut into the Rebels’ lead, bringing it down to a five-point margin twice. Ole Miss then got back out to a comfortable lead over the Lady Eagles and took a 31-18 advantage into the locker room at the break.
After halftime, Ole Miss continued to keep a wide margin over USM, taking a 54-40 lead into the last ten minutes of play.
But Southern Miss cracked down defensively in the fourth quarter. They did not allow the Rebels to score from the field in nearly nine minutes of action, forcing them to go to the charity stripe for points and cutting the Rebels’ 58-42 lead down to a nine-point margin.
Ole Miss shot 45 percent from the floor on the day and held Southern Miss to just 37 percent shooting. The Rebels found a rhythm from beyond the arc as they shot 31 percent, and the Rebels’ defense only allowed USM to hit one three-pointer in the game.
Ole Miss returns to action on Sunday as they travel out to Eugene for a Pac 12-SEC showdown against Oregon. Game time is set for 3 p.m. CT.
“Oregon is really good,” Insell said. “We will have to have our A game … They are a Final-Four team. They have a chance to play in the Final Four. I wish we were playing them at full strength with everybody on our roster like we did last year. I like where we are at, I like our team, I like that we are playing them. I think it’s going to be a great challenge for our basketball team.”
Adam Brown is the sports editor at HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.