TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss women’s basketball had the ball several times late, but the Rebels weren’t able to convert as Alabama prevailed, 46-43, in a wild finish at Coleman Coliseum on Thursday night.
Despite a rough day shooting, the Rebels led throughout the first half, entering halftime with a 22-16 lead after forcing nine Crimson Tide turnovers – the fewest first half points allowed by Ole Miss in SEC play this year. Alabama responded, though, ripping off a 14-1 run in the third quarter after tying the game 27-27, ending the frame with a three-point lead at 36-33.
Ole Miss returned the favor, opening the fourth quarter with some energy and taking the lead back with 6:34 remaining on a jumper by Shandricka Sessom (nine points, five rebounds), who at that point had scored five unanswered for the Rebels. It would be the last field goal of the game for Ole Miss, though, as the Tide defense shut down the Rebels to a season-low 24.6 percent shooting overall.
A defensive tug-of-war encapsulated the final minute of play, as the Rebels were still in it in the closing seconds of the game. Down 46-43 with less than 20 seconds to play, the Rebel defense swarmed on a loose ball, with La’Karis Salter (two points, nine rebounds) coming up on the positive end of a jump ball for the steal to give Ole Miss possession with 17.6 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Ole Miss drew up a play for Sessom to tie the game with a three, but the ball hit the back iron. The Rebels fouled Alabama’s Cierra Johnson (14 points, 14 rebounds), who missed both of her attempts.
Crystal Allen (20 points, seven rebounds) came down with the board with 2.6 seconds left to give Ole Miss one last shot after calling a timeout. The Tide defense guarded the in-bounds well, though, forcing Salter into a deep three that fell short as time expired.
Allen led the way for the Rebels once again, scoring a game-high 20 points. Allen, the SEC’s third-leading scorer, has led Ole Miss in scoring in five straight games, scoring at least 20 in four of those contests. Tonight constituted her 12th game this season with 20 points or more.
Joining Johnson in double-digits for the Tide were Jasmine Walker (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Ariyah Copeland (10 points, seven rebounds).
Ole Miss (9-20, 3-12 SEC) will conclude its regular season this Sunday (March 3) when it hosts Tennessee at 2 p.m. CT inside The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Four Rebel seniors will be honored: Crystal Allen, Cecilia Muhate, La’Karis Salter and Shandricka Sessom.