OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Ole Miss women’s basketball team fought hard, but a 25-10 third quarter in favor of Auburn proved to be too much to overcome, and the Rebels ultimately fell to the Tigers, 64-51, at The Pavilion on Thursday night.
“Our second quarter has been our Achilles heel,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “The last thing I thought was that the third quarter we would break down mentally.”
The Rebels defended the perimeter well, holding Auburn to 4-of-20 from beyond the arc. The Rebels offense, though, had a tough time against a 40-minute, full-court pressure from Auburn that forced 20 Ole Miss turnovers.
“In order for us to play well against a team like Auburn, we have to be able to withstand the pressure for 40 minutes, and we just didn’t tonight,” McPhee-McCuin said. “Their press isn’t designed to force turnovers as much as it is to wear people down mentally. And when it wore my freshman point guard (Mimi Reid) down, and Crystal Allen, who is my scorer, that is when you need someone else to step up.”
Despite being held without a field goal for much of the game, redshirt senior Crystal Allen went 8-of-8 from the foul line. This extended her made free-throws steak to 45, which is longest active streak in the NCAA. She finished the game with 16 points, her 20th double-digit outing in 22 games played this year.
Fellow redshirt-senior Shandricka Sessom tied for the team-lead in both points (16) and rebounds (8), while also hitting four of the seven Rebel three-pointers tonight. Cecilia Muhate also contributed on the glass for the Rebels, grabbing eight rebounds in her first game after missing the previous two at Vanderbilt and Mississippi State due to a concussion.
Auburn (16-5, 4-4 SEC) got off to a hot start, jumping out to an 11-2 lead in just under four minutes of action. The Rebels regained composure, ending the quarter on a 7-0 run which cut the deficit to 15-13 after holding the Tigers scoreless for the final 3:46 of the frame.
Ole Miss took its first lead of the game on its first possession of the second quarter, but Auburn quickly regained control. The Rebel offense was held scoreless for a 5:26 stretch before Sessom got things going with a pair of three-pointers. Ole Miss entered the second half trailing 27-24.
Auburn took control in the third quarter, scoring 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting while holding Ole Miss to just 10.
Ole Miss (8-14, 2-6 SEC) stays home this coming Sunday (Feb. 3) for a showdown with No. 20 Texas A&M at The Pavilion at 2 p.m. CT.
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