By Adam Brown
The Ole Miss women’s basketball team came up short against the Missouri Tigers Thursday night with a score of 86-77 inside The Pavilion.
“We dug ourselves a deep hole in the first quarter,” coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “Just had to really fight hard to come back and we did not have the energy to finish it out in key moments. We have to learn and keep getting better. We are a young team. I have full confidence in the group.”
Ole Miss (7-3, 1-3 SEC) was led on the court by Shakira Austin who pulled in a double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds against the Tigers.
The Rebels had two other players join Austin with double figures as Donnetta Johnson scored 20 points and freshman Madison Scott added 10 points.
Missouri shot 57 percent from the field and got high percentage shots on goal.
“They just out-toughed us,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We didn’t compete as hard as we should have. We didn’t trust the defensive game plan initially. When we did start to trust the defensive game plan we got stops and we just did not have the energy to run around in the second half.”
Coach McPhee-McCuin said the game plan was to be able to play a lot of players.
“I did,” McPhee-McCuin said. “But we didn’t get much from them. Maybe because of the timing that I had to put them in. Still trying to figure out how to share the wealth with the group, to find those combinations. That’s on me trying to figure out how to balance them out so that players aren’t playing such long stretches of time. Two of my starters played like a whole quarter. I just don’t think that we will be successful if I have to have two starters play the whole quarter. Missouri is a tough matchup for us as they didn’t have a legit post. They had players that could shoot the three that really spread us out. If we see them again in the SEC Tournament it will be a different approach defensively.”
The Tigers were led by Hayley Frank with 23 points and went 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. As a team, Missouri finished the night going 9-for-19 for 47 percent.
Ole Miss climbed back into the game starting in the second quarter by outscoring the Tigers 18-12. After halftime, the Rebels tied the game up at 53-53 on a layup by Austin, before Missouri went on a run of their own to get back up by 9 making the score 62-53.
The Rebels return to action on Sunday as they travel to Athens, Georgia to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. on the SEC Network.