Ole Miss sophomore Shandricka Sessom (Byhalia, Miss.) posted a career high 24 points to lead the Ole Miss women’s basketball team to a 97-61 win over Mississippi Valley in its season opener on Friday afternoon in the 13th annual School Kids game. The Rebels played in front of a record crowd of 7,407 fans, which is a new school record, and the largest crowd to see a women’s basketball game in the state of Mississippi.
Classmate Kelsey Briggs (Memphis, Tenn.) joined Sessom in double figures with 12 points, while Oxford native Erika Siskadded 15 points and rookie Alissa Alston (New Haven, Conn.) had 12 points in her collegiate debut. Jonell Williams(Palatka, Fla.) led Ole Miss’ rebounding efforts with a team-best nine boards, including six on the offensive glass.
Mississippi Valley fought back early and cut a once five point Rebel lead to just one bucket with a little over a minute in the first quarter by capitalizing on Ole Miss turnovers. The Lady Devilletes scored four points off miscues and took a four-point lead at the quarter but the Rebels went to their defense to stop the visitors forcing them into 35 turnovers, which led to 36 points for the Rebels.
A bucket from Briggs at the 8:07 mark ended a nearly six minute scoring drought and sparked a 11-0 run which allowed the home team to regain the lead. Ole Miss clawed its way back on the defensive end by forcing Mississippi Valley into several backcourt violations and took a 34-29 lead into halftime.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair to start, but the Rebels pulled away in the third quarter outscoring Mississippi Valley, 31-21 and held them to just 11 points in the fourth quarter en route to its eighth consecutive season-opening victory.
From The Head Coach
On the slow start…
“We didn’t come out very well defensively, we came out with little energy but that’s part of being a young team and being fired up. I had to get a little emotional in the huddle to get some energy out of them and we finally got that.”
On the win…
“We’re very happy about getting this win. We’ll watch the tape, improve from this and get ready to play on Sunday.”
On offensive scoring…
“Offensively once we settled down and stopped rushing things we were really good. Once we started moving the ball we were a lot better. That’s something that I’m really happy with. Shandricka Sessom, my goodness, she has a chance to be real special and I tell her that everyday.”
On the attendance record/kids day…
“We’re going to break that again later in the year at The Pavilion. We have a game circled where we want to break the record again. I’m going to challenge Rebel Nation to keep breaking those records, and I think they can figure out whom that opponent will be. Today it was a great crowd with a lot of energy. It’s great to see the principals in our community support our team and allow the kids to miss school to be at our games.”
-Today’s game was the 13th annual School Kids Game in Oxford. Ole Miss welcomed a record crowd of 7,407 to the game, which is the largest crowd to ever see a women’s basketball game in school history and is also the largest attended women’s basketball game in the state of Mississippi.
-Kelsey Briggs started her second career game in today’s contest, Briggs last started against Baylor on last season.
-Bretta Hart made her first career start in today’s game. Hart, a junior has played in 36 career games.
-Rebels making their collegiate debuts today included: Alissa Alston, Madinah Muhammad, Cecilia Muhate Pena, Jonell Williams, and Torri Lewis. Additionally Rutgers transfer Precious Person made her debut. Each of Ole Miss’ players saw action in today’s contest.
–Shandricka Sessom set a new career high with 24 points. It was her second career game of 20+ points and the first for Ole Miss since former Rebel Tia Faleru had 24 in a WNIT win against Georgia Tech last season.
Ole Miss welcomes UL-Lafayette to Tad Smith Coliseum on Sunday, November 15 at 7 pm. The game will be the first women’s basketball game televised on the SEC Network for the 2015-16 season. The game will feature Gail Goestenkors on the call along with Paul Sunderland.
Keep Up With the Rebels
Keep up to date with the Ole Miss women’s basketball team throughout the season on social media. For all Ole Miss women’s basketball news and information, go to OleMissSports.com, and follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissWBB, Facebook at Ole Miss WBB and on Instagram at Ole MissWBB. Fans can also follow Ole Miss women’s basketball head coach Matt Insell on Twitter at @minsell.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Information