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Rebels Drop Contest to No. 14 Mississippi State

Coach Matt Insell at SEC Media Days / Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy Ole Miss Athletics
Coach Matt Insell at SEC Media Days / Photo courtesy of Joshua McCoy Ole Miss Athletics

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team twice cut the No. 14 Mississippi State Bulldogs lead to five points in the fourth quarter but couldn’t get any closer as the Rebels fell, 60-51 to the Bulldogs on Sunday evening at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

With the Mississippi State lead at 52-43 with 4:19 left in the fourth quarter, Madinah Muhammad (Chicago, Ill.) nailed a pair of free throws and was fouled on a three-pointer and went a perfect 3-of-3 form the line to get it to five points with 3:37remaining in the contest. Mississippi State used five points from Victoria Vivians to pull back into double figures as the Bulldogs picked up the win.

Muhammad led the Rebels with 14 points for her ninth game in double figures while Joseph and Shandricka Sessom(Byhalia, Miss.) each added nine points. A’Queen Hayes (Horn Lake, Miss.) led the way on the glass with seven rebounds.

Out of the halftime break, Ole Miss forced Mississippi State turnovers on their first three possessions of the quarter and Shequila Joseph (London, England) nailed the first shot of the quarter and Erika Sisk (Oxford, Miss.) completed an old-fashioned three point play and the Mississippi State lead was just five points with two minutes off the game clock.  The Rebels opened the quarter 3-of-4 from the floor and cut into the lead by bearing down on defense and forcing the visitors into 15 miscues on the night.

Ole Miss got out to a good start winning the tip and responding with a triple from Joseph on the other end. Ole Miss was extremely active on the defensive end to open the game forcing the Bulldogs in early miscues but the visitors took a slim 10-7 lead at the first media timeout. The Bulldogs extended their lead to a game-high fie points with five unanswered forcing Ole Miss to call a timeout a the 2:22 mark to regroup and stop the Mississippi State momentum. The Rebels stopped a 6:44scoring drought with a bucket from Sessom to end the quarter. Bretta Hart (Poplarville, Miss.), starting her third consecutive contest, was a spark early with four early points and was active on the boards

The home team started to settle in in the second quarter and was led by Joseph who nailed a triple and birthday girl Hayes who was able to slice through the lane for a bucket at the rim. At the media timeout, the Rebels were on a 6-0 run and held the Bulldogs without a bucket for 4:30 as the lead was cut to just six possessions at 21-15 before Mississippi State used a 9-5 spurt to close the half and take a 30-20 lead at the break.

From the Head Coach 
On the loss to MSU…
“It was a real hard fought game. Hats off to Mississippi State for winning the game. We had plenty of opportunities, cutting it to five in the fourth quarter, and had a lot of momentum but couldn’t finish plays. Our kids continue to play very hard, and I’m happy with the way we’re playing. You just aren’t going to win a lot of basketball games if you continue to shoot below 30%, but outside of the third quarter it was pretty even the way the game was played. We shot 26% from the field, and you aren’t going to beat a lot of people like that. (Victoria) Vivians made a lot of shots for them. Every time they needed a bucket she stepped up.”

On what’s missing, and losing to your rival…
“We’re about one player away from being really good, that’s just where we are in the process of building our program. We have another tough one on Thursday, and we will continue to grow. I was talking to our baseball coach and one thing he told me was that he started out pretty rough against State. He’s flipped it and turned it in his favor a little bit and that keeps me going everyday. I know this game means so much to Rebel Nation and it means so much to us and our program. I’m sure it means a lot to the Mississippi State fan base too. Winning this game is very important to us, and I’m proud of the way our girls fought but we did not win the game.”

On what’s going wrong…
“I’m really happy with our kids’ effort but we aren’t making any shots. That’s just the story of who we are right now. We played real hard and had a chance to win the game, we just aren’t making shots.”

On Victoria Vivians…
“She has struggled a lot this year. She hasn’t shot the ball very well as of late, but I have a lot of respect for her because she’s a good player. We were there and she made a shot. Every time we cut it to five, she made a shot. We were there and she just made them. That’s what great players do. She didn’t do anything special or anything we haven’t seen. All she did was come off two low staggers and jumped up and made shots. She’s like Stefan Moody from our men’s team – he makes tough shots. That’s why they’re successful. We have to get to a point where we make tough shots. We it at five there at the end and I called a timeout and told them to regroup and get right because we had a chance to make a push. Vivians then goes and makes a big three, then banks a shot in off balance. That’s what she’s supposed to do, make shots, and she did.”

Rebel Sidelines
-Today’s meeting was the second meeting of the season between the instate rivals. Ole Miss leads, 63-28. Mississippi.

-Madinah Muhammad posted her ninth game in double figures with a team-best 14 points.

-Shequila Joseph has now hit a triple in each of the last five games and in 10 of the last 11 games.

-Today is A’Queen Hayes birthday. The Horn Lake, Miss., native turns 20. Hayes is the first and only player to have her birthday fall on a gameday this season

-Madinah Muhammad honored her mom, a breast cancer survivor, with a special video and flowers in a pregame ceremony.

-Today’s game with the eighth annual “Tickled Pink” game. Ole Miss donned special pink uniforms and shoes and along with the game sponsors Kay Yow Cancer Fund and local partner Baptist – North Mississippi provided pink beads and pink bracelets as giveaways.

Up Next
The Rebels will close out the 2015-16 home slate against No. 3/2 South Carolina on Thursday at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The game will be apart of the SEC Networks full night of whip around coverage of SEC women’s basketball. Ole Miss and South Carolina will tip off at 8 p.m. CT on SEC Network with Paul Sunderland and Carolyn Peck on the call.  Fans in the Oxford, Lafayette area can hear Graham Doty and Armintie Herrington on the call on 105.1/105.5 in Oxford/Batesville and on OleMissSports.com

Next Five Games
2/25/16– vs. South Carolina         8 p.m.                      SEC Network&
2/28/16– at Arkansas                   3 p.m.                      SEC Network
3/2-6/16- at SEC Tournament     TBA                          SEC Network

&- SEC Network Whiparound coverage

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. Additionally fans can get a behind the scenes look at Ole Miss Athletics on Snapchat under the handle, @WeAreOleMiss.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Information

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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