Late surge sends Ole Miss into second round of NCAA Tournament

Published 7:55 pm Saturday, March 23, 2024

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — For the second year in a row, Ole Miss is ready to stare down a top seed on its home floor for the right to play another weekend in the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Madison Scott scored 20 points and seventh-seeded Ole Miss used a late run to beat 10th-seeded Marquette 67-55 on Saturday in the first round.

Ole Miss (24-8) takes on the host No. 2 Seed Fighting Irish (27-6) on Monday. Game times were to be announced after the conclusion of Saturday’s games.

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This is familiar territory for Ole Miss. They won their NCAA Tournament opener last year as a No. 8 seed, then beat top-seeded Stanford on its home floor to advance to the Sweet 16.

Kennedy Todd-Williams added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Rebels against Marquette. Tyia Singleton had 12 points and Kharyssa Richardson scored 10.

Liza Karlen led Marquette (23-9) with a double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Rose Nkumu scored 18 points, and Mackenzie Hare had 10 points.

Ole Miss reeled off a 12-2 run after Marquette closed to 55-50 and had a chance to narrow the deficit even more.

“That is dictate and disrupt,” Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said of her team taking control. “That is what it should look like. That is where we’re most comfortable, when we hunker down and we get an incredible competitive swagger about ourselves and we decide you’re not scoring. When we’re like that, we’re pretty tough to beat.”

Ole Miss forged an eight-point lead, at 55-47, on a driving lay-up by Scott with 7:22 left in the game. She played a critical role offensively and defensively in the decisive Ole Miss run.

“Just doing whatever my team needs me to do, scoring, rebounding, just leading,” Scott said. “Anything for us to be successful, I’m going to do that.”

Marquette’s Hare swished a 3 off a fastbreak to make it 55-50, and an Ole Miss turnover put the ball right back in Marquette’s hands.

That’s when the Ole Miss sudden-strike defense kicked in as the Rebels unleashed their defensive intensity. Singleton stole the ball and drove in for a basket, and seconds later, a Todd-Williams steal led to her scoring on a putback, and the 12-2 run was on to move Ole Miss into the second round.

Ole Miss and Marquette waged a tight battle in an intense first half. The Rebels held a 36-33 halftime lead thanks to a 22-17 edge in the second quarter.

The first half featured six lead changes and two ties.

“We were pretty heated at halftime,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We gave up 16 and 17 points, and it was almost like my team was let’s just feel this out for (the first half), and instead of just being who we are and being solid.”

Marquette coach Megan Duffy said that Scott’s scoring, passing and defense got the Ole Miss attack in high gear. The Golden Eagles were outscored 18-9 in the fourth quarter.

“When (Scott) got hot, they turned up their pressure,” Duffy said. “Every game is a little different why you can’t score. There’s some games where you have really good looks and they don’t go in. That’s the game of basketball.

“Sometimes you have to really look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘hey, we could have done better to execute.’ But give Ole Miss a lot of credit, just the way their intensity changed in that fourth quarter.”