Ole Miss, MSU win women’s basketball matinees

Published 4:45 pm Monday, December 16, 2019

By Nathanael Gabler
The Oxford Eagle

OXFORD — Monday afternoon at The Pavilion was a bit more high-pitched than a standard Ole Miss basketball game.

Schools, mostly elementary and middle, from Batesville to Pontotoc came by the busload to watch the Ole Miss women’s basketball team beat Georgia Southern 69-66 in overtime.

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In total, the team had 6,574 in attendance on Monday, mostly students. Ole Miss officials said they had reservations for more than 8,000, but had some day-of cancellations due to weather concerns.

“It’s the best day ever. I told our players they had a responsibility to be a positive example today and play the game the right way for these kids,” Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “Not only just the girls, but boys too. I just think sports have a way of teaching respect, no matter the race or the gender. It was pretty cool to see them come out and cheer. I hate that we had to go overtime, because they had to leave. Wish they would’ve been able to stay to the end.”

On the court, McPhee-McCuin admits this Rebels team is still putting the pieces together and learning how to win. Monday afternoon’s game goes a long way in that regard.

A back-and-forth game marked by a handful of key runs by both teams, Ole Miss took a 30-26 lead into halftime. Coming out of the break, Georgia Southern was able to retake the lead with a 10-0 run of its own, before the final portion of the third quarter was characterized by four lead changes and a stretch of tied basketball.

In total, it was the most back-and-forth game Ole Miss has played all year, featuring 10 lead changes and four ties.

Georgia Southern claimed the lead with 7:33 remaining in the fourth quarter off of two intentional foul free throws. Unlike the third quarter, when the lead bounced around, Ole Miss immediately went on an 11-3 run once it fell behind.

Leading by as many as eight points late, Ole Miss nearly let the game get away. A Georgia Southern and-one and subsequent layup cut the lead to 59-58 with 1:13 to play. An Eagle layup off an offensive rebound with 23.7 seconds to play tied it at 60-60. The game went to overtime tied at such.

Ole Miss scored the first six points in overtime to seal the 69-66 win. Mimi Reid made a basket and two free throws to push it to 66-60 with 50 seconds remaining. Georgia Southern got back with 69-66 and had a chance to tie after Reid missed two free throws with eight seconds left, but it never got a final shot off.

Valerie Nesbitt and Torri Lewis led the Rebels (6-5) with 16 and 14 points, respectively. Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak.

“I thought we handled adversity well,” McPhee-McCuin said. “This game is huge. It doesn’t matter the opponent right now … we responded in the right way. There was never a moment for me that I felt like we wouldn’t win this game.”

Mississippi State 64, La.-Lafayette 48
Jordan Danberry had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Andra Espinoza-Hunter also scored 12 points, and No. 15 Mississippi State beat Louisiana-Lafayette to extend its road winning streak to 12 games.

Espinoza-Hunter banked in a running 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer for a 30-25 lead, and the Bulldogs held Louisiana-Lafayette to 23 points in the second half to keep alive the nation’s longest active road win streak. They also snapped a two-game losing streak.

Chloe Bibby added nine points and 12 rebounds for Mississippi State (9-2), which outrebounded ULL 43-30 and scored 34 points in the paint. Sophomore forward Jessika Carter, averaging 14.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.4 blocks, had seven points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

The Bulldogs entered after an eight-day break that followed a home loss to West Virginia. They shot just 41 percent and committed 25 turnovers, but held ULL to 16-of-51 shooting.
Mississippi State shot 58 percent from the floor in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead, 46-36, into the final period.

Kimberly Burton led Louisiana-Lafayette (6-3) with 10 points. Skyler Goodwin and Diamond Morrison scored seven points apiece.

The Ragin’ Cajuns lost last year’s meeting 104-36 on the road and is winless in the series’ 12 games.

“We did not shoot it well. We have a pretty good shooting team. We did not shoot it well. Field goal percentage wise there was going to be a bunch of rebounds.” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought (Danberry and Bibby) rebounded the ball extremely well. We certainly needed that. Jo had a double-double. I am proud of her for that.”