ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss showed fight throughout and even took the fourth quarter, but No. 2 UConn used a steady 50.7 percent shooting effort toward a 90-50 win over the Rebels at the first day of the Paradise Jam on Thursday.
This was the first meeting all-time between the Rebels (3-2) and the powerhouse Huskies (3-0), who are currently on a streak of 10 straight Final Four appearances under Naismith Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma. Ole Miss didn't let that reputation cloud its play, though, scrapping hard with the hot-shooting UConn squad until the end.
"As far as I'm concerned, they're on their own journey, and we're on our own journey," said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "We won the fourth quarter, we only had 10 turnovers – you can't compare yourself to them. We're not trying to win a national championship, we're trying to win games in this tournament, and in order for us to do that we have to come out and compete."
Despite a back-and-forth beginning, UConn was in control for most of the game until that fourth quarter, when the Rebels showed signs of resilience and put up a 23-21 advantage to close out the contest. Ole Miss turned the ball over a season-low 10 times, and received solid outings from Crystal Allen (11 points, 3-of-6 3PT), Shannon Dozier (11 points) and La'Karis Salter (nine points, four assists two steals) in the effort. The Rebels recorded the fourth-straight game with at least an even or positive assist-turnover ratio; for reference, last season Ole Miss did not do so in more than two games consecutively all year.
UConn, meanwhile, had six score in double-digits (including all five starters) and won the rebounding battle 44-30 over the Rebels on top of their strong shooting clip from the field. Leading the way was Katie Lou Samuelson with 22 points – one of three Huskies that were named Preseason All-Americans and to the watch lists for both the Naismith and Wooden Awards.
Ole Miss gets right back to it tomorrow evening with a tilt against Purdue at 4:30 p.m. CT. Earlier today, the Boilermakers lost to St. John's, 68-62.
"We competed and we fought hard, and I'm proud of my team for that," McPhee-McCuin said.