Thursday, March 4, 2021

Ole Miss Falls Short to No. 18 Arkansas

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team fought through postponements, travel delays and an eight-day hiatus to even be able to take on Arkansas, but came up just short in an 84-74 loss to the 18th-ranked Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena on Friday night.

The Rebels (9-8, 3-8 SEC) held significant advantages in rebounds (39-25), second chance points (24-3), points in the paint (46-32) and bench points (23-14), but had few answers for Chelsea Dungee, who poured in the most points by an Ole Miss opponent since 2014 with 38 points for Arkansas (16-7, 6-6 SEC).

“Just really disappointed with our effort tonight,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “We didn’t come out with the intensity from the start. We had opportunities to get in, but we had constant struggles for some reason.”

Ole Miss shot 44 percent overall, but just 18 percent from beyond the arc and 64 percent from the free throw line, while allowing Arkansas the same slash line of .563/.455/.758. Shakira Austin and Madison Scott each recorded double-doubles in the same game for the fourth time this season. Both scored 17 points and each also had two blocks, with Austin’s 11 rebounds making her the first Rebel to record four consecutive double-doubles since 2014-15, and Scott’s 10 boards marking her fourth career double-double. The 17 points also tied a career-high for Scott.

Junior Mimi Reid was crucial for the Rebels off the bench, tallying a season-high 16 points along with three rebounds and two assists. However, Arkansas received 57 combined points from Dungee and Amber Ramirez (19 points), who also combined for an 18-of-34 line from the field. Dungee – one of the NCAA’s most prolific scorers the last few seasons – also took advantage of Rebel foul troubles, going 14-of-17 from the charity stripe.

Despite the Rebel advantages in several facets of the game, Arkansas was able to key-in defensively, scoring 26 points off of 19 Rebel turnovers. The Razorbacks forced the issue early and often, including right off the bat.

Dungee cashed in four points off of two consecutive Ole Miss turnovers to begin the game. Just over three minutes into the game, back-to-back wide open three-pointers from Dungee and Jailyn Mason forced an Ole Miss timeout down 10-7 after Arkansas started 4-of-4 from the field. The Rebels turned the ball over seven times within a span of five minutes as Arkansas used a 13-2 run to take a double-digit lead in the closing minutes of the first quarter. A Tiya Douglas layup at the horn made it a 24-15 ball game at the end of the first quarter.

Both teams traded buckets to begin the second quarter. Two free throws from Snudda Collins cut Ole Miss’ deficit to 28-24 with 5:32 left in the first half. The Razorbacks responded with three straight makes, including a steal and transition basket and extended their lead to nine with 4:12 left in the half. However, it was the Rebels who would win the frame and close the gap down just five at the break, 41-36, after a pair of Reid free throws.

Much like the end of the first quarter, Arkansas began the second half rolling. A 7-0 run orchestrated by Dungee herself put the Razorbacks up by 12 just two minutes in. Just as the Rebels to heat up in the third, Dungee eclipsed 30 points and gave her team a 64-51 lead going into the final 10 minutes.

Ole Miss did not go quietly, though, as it roared back with nine consecutive points to begin the fourth to make it a 64-60 game with 7:40 left. Three members of Arkansas’ starting lineup also veered toward foul trouble with three apiece. That didn’t faze the Razorbacks, though, as they countered with a big run of their own and eventually found their game-high 13-point lead back with under five minutes to go. Despite Madison Scott putting on an exceptional fourth quarter with nine points and five boards to help cut the deficit to single digits multiple times down the stretch, it proved too little, too late as Arkansas escaped with a 10-point win.

“I thought we were fine. I don’t know who that team was today,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I saw a bunch of individuals, but I didn’t see our team, our collectiveness. We didn’t give ourselves opportunities tonight.”

The Rebels don’t have a lot of time to dwell on this one, though, as they look to rebound in their return to Oxford on Sunday (Feb. 21) against No. 5 Texas A&M (19-1, 10-1 SEC). Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports