ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss put together a jaw-dropping run in the second half to erase a 19-point St. John’s lead, but the Rebel women’s basketball team ended up just short, falling 64-59 to the Red Storm to close out the 2018 Paradise Jam on Saturday evening.
Ole Miss (3-4) overcame a sluggish first half that allowed St. John’s to build to a 30-18 halftime lead and a 48-29 advantage with 3:22 to play in the third quarter, but the Rebels dug deep for an impressive feat of resiliency. The Rebels proceeded to turn on the jets, ripping off a cumulative 20-3 run across the closing minutes of the third and opening minutes of the fourth to pull within two points, trailing 51-49 with 4:16 to play.
What followed was an intense tug-of-war to the finish line, but an absurd night by the Red Storm on the charity stripe ended up as the difference. St. John’s shot 27-of-33 from the free throw line – including a 13-of-15 clip in the fourth quarter alone as the game devolved into intentional fouls to stop the clock. St. John’s own Qadashah Hoppie buried an amazing 17-of-17 on her free attempts, giving her 23 points on the night.
Conversely, the Rebels shot only 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from the free throw line despite shooting 43.4 percent from the field and holding the Red Storm to just 31.5 percent shooting.
After only scoring a combined 48 points in the first half, Ole Miss and St. John’s combined for 75 in the back half – which the Rebels won yet again at a 41-34 advantage.
Central to the Rebel run were Crystal Allen, Gabby Crawford and Jhileiya Dunlap. Allen, who has been the top scorer for Ole Miss all season, entered the second half with just three points, but proceeded to drop 23 in the third and fourth quarters to give her 26 points total. It’s a new career-high for the fifth-year graduate transfer, who now stands at 950 career points after putting up 50 in three games at the Paradise Jam.
Allen was also named to the All-Tournament team for her efforts. In three games against UConn, Purdue and St. John’s, Allen averaged 16.7 PPG, shot .425 from the field and .450 from beyond the arc. Her 26-point performance tonight is the most by a Rebel since Feb. 11 of this past season vs. Alabama, when Torri Lewis scored 26 against the Crimson Tide. Allen’s performance tonight is tied for the fifth-best in the SEC this season, and her 17.4 season PPG currently ranks sixth.
Freshman Gabby Crawford and junior Jhileiya Dunlap combined for 18 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks as a crucial component for the Rebels on the block.
Ole Miss now returns home to host TCU for a nationally televised game on SEC Network on Wednesday night (Nov. 29) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT inside The Pavilion at Ole Miss.