OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Rebels clawed their way out of a steep deficit to bring the game to within one point down the stretch, but No. 19 Georgia pulled away late for a 66-52 victory over the Ole Miss women’s basketball team at The Pavilion on Monday night.
Ole Miss was down by 19 points just 20 seconds into the second half, but the Rebels ripped off a 26-8 in the third quarter and come within one point in the process – entering the fourth quarter trailing Georgia by only four at 48-44. The Lady Bulldogs responded with a stiff defensive front in the fourth quarter, stretching for the 66-52 victory after holding the Rebels to just 22.2 percent shooting in the final frame.
“Obviously we’re in a tough stretch right here losing some games,” said Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell. “I’m really happy with our fight in the second half, but when you turn the ball over 15 times in the first half and then let (Georgia’s Caliya) Robinson – one of the best players in the league – dictate everything early in the game, it got Georgia going really well.”
Insell is referring to junior Georgia guard Caliya Robinson, who scored 28 points on 13-of-21 shooting – 16 of which came in a stellar first half that saw Georgia shoot 50.2 percent as a team.
But despite the first half struggles (and the big first half by Robinson), the Rebels showed resilience in the third quarter with that big 26-8 run – led by junior Madinah Muhammad, who scored nine in the third quarter alone.
Included in that run for Muhammad was career point No. 1,000, making her the 29th Rebel to ever eclipse the threshold. Muhammad is also the second junior in as many seasons to pass 1,000 points, joining Shandricka Sessom, who did so last season. Muhammad ended the night with 18 points and a 7-of-7 clip from the free throw line, putting her at 1,010 career points.
“Madinah is a hard worker,” Insell said. “She obviously has had to carry a lot of the weight this year. It’s been frustrating for her, she’s a winner. It’s frustrating for her when we’re not winning, because she knows how good this team is when we’re at full-strength. But, I’ve been very proud of her for continuing to push forward, even through injuries, this year.”
Also having strong outings this evening were Alissa Alston (10 points), Promise Taylor (eight points, seven rebounds) and Kate Rodgers (six points, six rebounds). Rodgers went down with what looked to be a serious leg injury on the same leg that forced her out of six games earlier this season, but she returned and was a key player down the stretch for the Rebels.
Ole Miss will have its home regular season finale this Thursday (Feb. 22) when the Rebels host Kentucky. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
“We’ll have our hands full, because (Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell) will have his team ready to play. I’ve got a lot of respect for that program, and I know their kids will come ready to play.”