PHILADELPHIA (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss was without its leading scorer for most of the game, but that didn’t stop the Rebels from claiming a key road win against 2017 NCAA Tournament team Temple, topping the Owls, 64-48, at McGonigle Hall on Saturday.
The Rebels (5-1) excelled despite not having SEC leading scorer Madinah Muhammad, who scored zero points in eight minutes after suffering a minor ankle injury in practice. Her teammates picked her up in a great team effort, with three in double-digit scoring, a strong 47-36 rebounding advantage and a stifling defense that held the Owls (4-2) to just 25 percent shooting on the night – the lowest by an Ole Miss opponent this season.
“Huge road win,” said Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell. “When you can beat a team like Temple on the road in their place – they don’t lose very often here. To come in here and get a win like we did tonight and having a man down, I just could not be more proud of our basketball team.”
It was a back-and-forth slugfest for much of the game, but a 13-4 run at the end helped create some separation to seal the victory.
Senior Shandricka Sessom was invaluable all over the floor on Saturday, leading with 23 points and eight boards for her third 20-point game of the season. Sessom moved past Regan Seybert (1993-97, 1,126 points) on the all-time scoring list, ending the day in sole possession of 24th all-time with 1,131.
The Owls were not going to go quietly, pushing back within a few points here and there down the stretch, but Sessom attributes the Rebel rally at the end to an increased effort on the boards.
“Once we started just rebounding it picked us up, and then we were able to continue to score on offense,” Sessom said.
A big part of that was true freshman Promise Taylor, who had a dominating effort for the Rebels. Taylor entered the day as the best freshman shot blocker in the NCAA and the second-best freshman in field goal percentage (and third-best overall in the SEC), and continued her success with her performance today. Taylor ended with 15 points, eight rebounds (ties a career-high) and three of a team season-high eight blocks by the Rebels tonight.
Also invaluable on the boards was sophomore Bree Glover, who set a career high with eight boards at the forward position.
Junior Alissa Alston was the third Rebel in double-digits with 10 points, six assists and five boards, and had the Rebel highlight of the day with an ankle-breaking crossover that lead to a layup to help energize Ole Miss in the second half.
Today’s win is the second potentially high-quality RPI win for the Rebels in as many games, as Ole Miss also defeated tournament team Troy at home on Tuesday (96-93). With Temple going up against powerhouses like UConn, the Rebels are in a good position to put together a very strong non-conference resume with teams like Middle Tennessee (Nov. 29, at home), Arkansas State (Dec. 2, at home), South Alabama (Dec. 9, at home), Southern Miss (Dec. 12, at home), No. 10 Oregon (Dec. 17, at Oregon) Portland State (Dec. 19, at Portland State) and Texas Southern (Dec. 28, at home) still on the non-conference slate.
“We did this,” Insell said. “We put this schedule together because we knew we struggled on the road last year, and we have to get confidence on the road. How do you get confidence on the road before you hit league play? You go into high-style situations and you win games, and that’s what we did tonight. I’m just real proud of them.”