OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss women’s basketball put together another sensational team performance and utilized the energy from a crowd of 7,389 for Kids Day toward a 79-57 win over Louisiana at The Pavilion on Wednesday morning.
The Rebels (5-6) shot a season-high 53.3 percent and had all five starters score in double-digits for the first time since Nov. 17, 2016 (vs. Jacksonville State), including two double-doubles from Mimi Reid (14 points, 11 assists) and Jhileiya Dunlap (10 points, 12 rebounds). Defensively, Ole Miss held the Ragin’ Cajuns (2-7) to just 33.8 percent from the field, the ninth opponent this year that the Rebels have stifled to less than 38 percent.
“(The atmosphere) was electric,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “I didn’t even play and I was pumped up. I’m glad that we had the type of performance for the kids to emulate.”
Ole Miss started out a little shy, though, drawing with the Ragin’ Cajuns 11-11 after shooting just 33 percent in the first quarter. The Rebels absolutely exploded in the second quarter, though, scoring a season-high quarter total of 25 points while shutting down the Louisiana offense to just 2-of-14 (14.3 percent) and five points in the frame. Ole Miss scored at least 20 a quarter the remainder of the game, the second game in a row that the Rebels have tallied three quarters above the 20-point plateau.
Senior Crystal Allen led in scoring again with 18 points, her third consecutive game with at least 18 points and her 10th double-digit scoring effort in 11 tries. After becoming the 30th Rebel to score their 1,000th-career point in an Ole Miss jersey vs. Savannah State on Saturday, Allen passed Rebel legend Carol Ross for sole possession of 29th all-time – currently sitting at 1,022.
However, it wasn’t just the Crystal Allen show at The Pavilion today, as the Rebels put together another masterful team performance en route to victory. As aforementioned, Ole Miss shot a season-high 53.3 percent on 32-of-60 shooting from the field, but for the second straight game the passing game helped in a huge way, with a season-high 24 assists on those 32 made buckets. The Rebels have now tallied back-to-back games with at least 20 assists for the first time since Feb. 26 to March 2, 2017.
Starting point guard and redshirt freshman Mimi Reid, in just her second game back from missing two games due to a concussion, recorded her first career double-double with career-highs in points (14) and assists (11). Junior Jhileiya Dunlap recorded her second double-double as a Rebel with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, as well as four assists, two blocks and one steal. Other Rebels in double-digits included Shandricka Sessom (13 points, eight rebounds) and Cecilia Muhate (10 points, six rebounds, four assists).
The Kids Day win makes Ole Miss 16-0 all-time on Kids Day, which began on Dec. 1, 2003, with an 85-72 win over McNeese State in front of 1,963 at Tad Smith Coliseum. Entering today, the Rebels were winning Kids Day contests by an average of 24.7 points per game. Today’s attendance of 7,389 ranks as the fifth-best home crowd all-time, the fourth-best ever at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.
“This atmosphere was phenomenal,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I just want to give a special shoutout to our marketing group, Kaylee (Candy) and the rest of her staff for putting this together. I’ve been a part of a lot of Kids Days, but I’ve never experienced the number of people that attended this game. I’ve never experienced that type of crowd. It inspired me because I do believe that once we turn this program around, that’s the type of crowd that we can get consistently.”
Up next for Ole Miss is the first true road game of the 2018-19 season with a trip over to Ruston, Louisiana, to take on Louisiana Tech on Dec. 15. After snapping a five-game losing streak, the Rebels are riding high after two superb team efforts going into their first road stint of the season.
“I feel like we’re in a really good place, to be honest,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We had some tough losses. I’m not gonna sit here and come up with excuses. I just think when you lose, you’ve got to figure it out. It’s so easy as coaches to point the finger to the players, but there was a lot of soul-searching just for myself on how we can get them better, day-in and day-out.”