OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Senior Crystal Allen made history and the Ole Miss women’s basketball team as a whole dominated in a 74-51 win over Savannah State at The Pavilion on Saturday afternoon.
The Rebels (4-6) received a complete team performance in the win over the Lady Tigers (2-5), scoring a season-high 74 points alongside a season-high nine three-pointers – five of which came from Allen, who today became the 30th Rebel to ever score their 1,000th point in an Ole Miss jersey. Most impressively, Ole Miss had a season-high 21 assists on 26 made field goals, and absolutely dominated the glass by a 62-28 advantage – the first rebounding margin above 30 since Dec. 29, 2009, vs. Centenary (+31).
“I think the most noticeable stat is the 62 rebounds we had, and the 21 assists,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “Usually when our assist count is high like this, we have a lot of success. We were sharing the ball, and we just really wanted to come out and have a better game than we did in our last outing.”
Coach Yo is referring to a tough 60-49 loss to Jacksonville State on Dec. 2, during which the Rebels had just nine assists. Tonight’s improvement on the glass is a historic one, with the Rebels’ 62 boards marking the first time above 60 since hauling in 61 vs. Jacksonville State on Nov. 8, 2013. It’s also the second-most in the SEC this season after Mississippi State’s 64 vs. Lamar on Nov. 15.
The effort on the glass was a big point of emphasis in the week of practice leading up to today’s contest, and the Rebels were rewarded with their season average jumping up an entire 2.6 rebounds per game afterward. In total, eight Rebels hauled in at least five rebounds (seven had at least six, three had seven, and two – Allen and Cecilia Muhate – had eight). Last year, the most Rebels to record at least five rebounds in a single game was six vs. Troy (Nov. 21, 2017).
“We’re not capable of 62 a night, but we’re definitely capable of being aggressive on the glass the way we were,” McPhee-McCuin said.
The catalyst for the Rebels tonight, though, was of course Allen, who exemplified all aspects of the team win despite her historic scoring outing. Allen finished with a career-high 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting and a season-high 5-of-9 mark from beyond the arc. In her last two games, Allen is shooting 8-of-13 from three, while in the last four games Ole Miss as a whole has hit at least 47 percent in each game with a 23-of-45 clip.
More importantly for Allen was the rest of her stat line tonight, as she also finished with career highs in rebounds (8) and assists (6).
“It’s not fun to lose,” Allen said. “It’s not a good feeling to get chewed out every time you go to the locker room. For us to come out here and get a win like this is good for us.”
Allen, who is a fifth-year graduate transfer, is the second transfer to score their 1,000th career point in an Ole Miss jersey after Erika Sisk did so in 2017 (Sisk spent one season at Murray State at the beginning of her career). Allen spent the first two seasons of her career at Seattle University (303 points), the next two at UT-Arlington (525 points), and in just 10 games as a Rebel she has scored 176 points.
“It’s been a journey for me,” Allen said. “This is my third school, and it’s a blessing for me to come over here and do the things that I have done so far, and I plan on doing a lot more.”
Ole Miss received additional double-digit outings from Jhileiya Dunlap (career-high 15 points) and Shandricka Sessom (11 points, six rebounds, 3-of-6 3PT). All 10 Rebels that played recorded a rebound, with Muhate (five points, eight rebounds), Mimi Reid (seven points, six rebounds, eight assists), Allen, Sessom, Mahogany Matthews (two points, five rebounds), Taylor Smith (two points, seven rebounds), Iyanla Kitchens (six rebounds) and La’Karis Salter (two points, six rebounds) all contributing at least five boards.
Key to the Rebel effort today, however, was the return of starting point guard Mimi Reid, who missed the last two games due to a concussion. In her return, the Rebels set the season high in assists on Reid’s career-high eight dimes.
“I’m sure Crystal and Drique were happy (Reid) was back,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We had a serious talk before this game of her being an extension of me on the floor, and what is needed, and to stop feeling sorry for herself because she was a freshman, and to just really be excited about taking the opportunity. I felt like she did that today.”
Ole Miss looks to take this momentum toward the annual Kids Day matchup, this year against Louisiana next Wednesday (Dec. 12) at 11 a.m. CT inside The Pavilion.
“Today was not so much about beating Savannah State,” McPhee-McCuin said. “It was about us showing to our fans and ourselves that we are a team that is a on a journey to get better, and we will continue to do that as long as we bring effort.”