BATON ROUGE, La. (Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss fought and scraped in a back-and-forth battle against LSU, but ultimately fell short, 52-44, to the Lady Tigers at the Pete Maravich Center on Sunday afternoon.
The Rebels (7-10, 0-4 SEC) outscored LSU (13-3, 3-1 SEC) 23-20 in the second half, but couldn't quite overcome a first half in which the Lady Tigers took advantage of a slow Ole Miss offense. That second half charge was led by junior Deja Cage, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the back half – which included 11 in the fourth quarter alone.
"I thought that we played with a lot of grit," said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "I thought that we competed. I think people forget how young my team is. I thought we had opportunities to win like Georgia. If we can keep learning from these, we're going to get in the win column at some point."
Ole Miss had started to make a dent into the LSU lead in the second quarter, cutting it to 20-19 at the 7:20 mark after consecutive buckets from Dominique Banks (10 points, seven rebounds, one block, one steal) and Bryn Parker (two points, eight rebounds) forced an LSU timeout. The Lady Tigers responded, though, closing the half on a 12-2 run to push their lead to 32-21 at the break.
The Rebels and Lady Tigers played to a near stalemate in the third quarter, with LSU edging Ole Miss 12-10, before Cage led the Rebel charge in the fourth. However, LSU had an answer for nearly ever Rebel basket as Ole Miss was only able to mount a 5-0 run in the process as the Lady Tigers hung on for victory.
LSU entered as one of the NCAA's top shooting teams, but Ole Miss was able to hold the Lady Tigers to just 36.5 percent from the floor. The Lady Tigers also entered Sunday as a prolific team from the free throw line, ranking ninth in the NCAA at an average of 23 trips per game, but were only able to record a 5-of-10 line from the charity stripe.
In addition to Cage's dynamite outing, Ole Miss also received strong games from Banks and Parker – the latter of whom recorded career highs in minutes (28) and rebounds (eight) as a key reserve off the bench for the Rebels.
"Just so proud of Dom," McPhee-McCuin said. "She has been playing her butt off. How about Bryn Parker with eight rebounds leading this team? Here's a kid that hadn't played until a game ago, and now she's going up against Ayana Mitchell and fighting. Really proud of her. Glad that Deja (Cage) was able to see some shots go in."
Mitchell led LSU as the only Lady Tiger in double digits, recording a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Ole Miss returns home next Sunday (Jan. 19) to host Missouri for its annual Alumni Day and Bingo Day games. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT inside The Pavilion.
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