OXFORD, Miss. – Valencia McFarland nailed a triple to cut No. 24/25 Vanderbilt’s lead to three points with 3:17 remaining, but that was as close as the Ole Miss women’s basketball team would get down the stretch in a 80-74 loss to No. 24/25 Vanderbilt at the Tad Smith Coliseum on Thursday (Jan. 16) night.
McFarland nailed a triple left to pull Ole Miss (9-9, 0-4 SEC) within one possession, but Vanderbilt countered with an 8-1 run to pull ahead by 10 points. The Rebels responded and got as close as six points, but dropped their fourth straight game and second straight at home.
“I was proud of the effort and the commitment they made,” said head coach Matt Insell.” We gave our kids a game plan, and they executed it well offensively all night. We did a lot better job defensively. In the second half, we got the stop we needed, but just couldn’t get that rebound. We’ll get there, and I’m proud of their effort. It was a great basketball game that we had a chance to win in the end, and we’ll start winning those games.”
McFarland led the Rebel offense with a career-high 28 point for her sixth 20-point game of the season. Tia Faleru was also in the 20-point club with 20 points for her second consecutive game of 20 or more. Faleru and Kenyotta Jenkins led the Ole Miss rebounding efforts with five and four rebounds, respectively.
Both teams were hot from the floor and Ole Miss shot a blistering 68.0 percent on 17-of-25 shooting in the first frame. Vanderbilt also shot better than 50 percent in the first half, going 16-of-29 from the floor for 55.2 percent shooting. Ole Miss ended up shooting 55.8 percent (29-of-52) for the game and Vanderbilt shot 57.1 percent (32-of-56).
The game was a chess match of sorts, featuring four lead changes and six ties, as the teams matched each both offensively and defensively. Ole Miss, who forced Vanderbilt into 16 turnovers, scored 22 points off Commodore miscues, but Vanderbilt (15-2, 4-1 SEC) scored 15 second chance points to just three for the Rebels.
Out of the halftime break, Ole Miss kept its hot hand and scored on their first possession to keep the lead with the home team, but Vanderbilt responded with a free throw and a layup to tie the game and from that point it was a battle as neither team took more than a five-point lead until 1:24 left in the contest.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a 9-2 lead to open the game and forced head Coach Matt Insell to call a timeout which energized the Rebels. Out of the break Shequila Joseph nailed a triple which sparked an 8-0 run gave the Rebels a 10-9 lead – their first of the game — at the 15:09 mark.
McFarland was on fire for the Rebels in the first half with 13 first-half points, including scoring six of Ole Miss’s points in a four minute spurt which saw the Rebels extend their lead to 23-20.
From that point the game was a back-and forth affair with the teams matching each other bucket for bucket. With Ole Miss leading 27-23, Jenkins gave Ole Miss a lift, by picking the pocket of Jasmine Jenkins and taking it to the rim to give the Rebels a seven-point lead, the largest lead for either team.
The Commodores wouldn’t go quietly and used a 6-2 run to close the half, but the Rebels held on to a 38-37 lead at the break. Both teams shot the ball well in the first half. Ole Miss shot a season-high 68 percent (17-of-25) in the first half while Vanderbilt shot 55.2 percent (16-of-29). Points off turnovers were key for both squads, as both gave up double-digits on giveaways.
Ole Miss takes to the road for the weekend when they travel to Fayetteville, Ark., to take on Arkansas on Sunday (Jan. 19). Tipoff is at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on Cox Sports and can be seen on Dish Network Channel 421. The Rebels are back at home on Jan. 23 when they take on in-state rival Mississippi State as part of Ole Miss’ “Beat State Week” Tip is set for 6 p.m. from the Tad Smith Coliseum. For ticket information, go to OleMissTix.com or call the Ole Miss Ticket Office at 1-888-REB-TKTS (732-8587).
–Ole Miss Sports Information
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