CHICAGO (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss bounced back from a tough loss to Saint Louis in the tournament opener with an astonishing offensive output, dominating Delaware State, 110-58, to win the consolation game and close out the Maggie Dixon Classic.
"(The SLU game) is not a game that is going to kill us," said Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell. "That is a game that's got to wake us up and it's got to make us better."
The Rebels (3-1) woke up right out of the gate, opening the floodgates with an 11-0 run and stymying the Hornets (0-3) on the first play of the game on a beautifully drawn-up alley-oop layup to senior Shandricka Sessom from junior point guard Alissa Alston. Sessom went on to score three of the first five field goals for Ole Miss during that run.
That was just the beginning of a strong bounce-back effort out of Sessom, who scored just nine points -- eight in the first half -- vs. Saint Louis last night. Sessom ended the night with a season-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and 5-of-6 from three with seven rebounds to boot. Sessom got the #SplashSisters momentum rolling, as junior Madinah Muhammad wasn't far behind and eventually surpassed her, scoring 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting and 4-of-9 from three.
Muhammad, who currently leads the SEC in scoring with 24.8 points per game, was named All-Tournament following her performance tonight and her career-high 29-point game against Saint Louis last night.
"They're really good, and we're glad to have them. Shandricka struggled last night, and I challenged her this morning to be better, and she was. She came out and set an example right away."
The Rebels shot 50 percent for the game (the third game out of four this season) broke the school record for scoring margin in any half with a 45-point advantage at halftime at 64-19 -- the second-most points scored in any half in school history as well.
By game's end, the Rebels were also just one field goal away from tying the all-time scoring record of 112 set twice in 2004 and 1983.
"We are about as consistent as any team in our league, and we are one of the most consistent teams offensively in the country," Insell said. "That's something we worked on a lot in the offseason. We worked more on that than the defense, and the defense is going to come, and tonight you saw that."
It was a complete team effort that helped guide the Rebels to the easy victory. As a team, Ole Miss had a 2:1 assist/turnover ratio with 24 assists and just 12 turnovers -- helped greatly by a 10-assist game by starting point guard Alissa Alston. All 13 Rebels scored and hit at least one field goal, with all 13 also playing double-digit minutes in some valuable game experience for the Ole Miss bench.
Other impressive Rebels this evening included: junior Torri Lewis, who was the third Rebel in double-digits with 10 points and trio of three-pointers; freshman Chyna Nixon, who scored a career-high eight points with six boards to boot; and sophomore Kate Rodgers, who earned her second career start and had seven points and seven rebounds.
"I couldn't be more proud of our effort tonight," Insell said. "This team has a chance to be really good. We're going to have some good days and bad days, but we've got the talent on this team to do something really special."
Ole Miss faces a tough week ahead with NCAA Tournament team Troy coming into The Pavilion on Tuesday night, which will be followed up by a Thanksgiving weekend trip to the birthplace of America for a tilt with fellow tournament team Temple in Philadelphia.