||Ole Miss women defeat LSU in thriller on Senior Night
OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) — Senior forward Tia Faleru hit a pair of free throws with 9.3 seconds on the clock and Ole Miss made one final stop on defense, as the Ole Miss women’s basketball team held on for a 58-57 win over LSU on Thursday night at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Playing on Senior Night, Tia Faleru (Ozark, Ala.) was one of four Rebels in double figures, recording her Southeastern Conference-leading 12th double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore Erika Sisk (Oxford, Miss.) and junior guard Gracie Frizzell (Little Rock, Ark.) led the way with 14 points each. Starting her third straight game, her fifth of the season, Frizzell went 4-for-6 from 3-point range, while senior forward Danielle McCray (West Palm Beach, Fla.) added 10 points and eight rebounds.
“What a great win for our program,” head coach Matt Insell said. “We got beat by 29 three weeks ago by LSU. We just got it handed to us and we looked like a team that had packed it in for the season down there, but this bunch just continues to fight. Our kids found a way to win.”
Ole Miss (17-11, 7-8 SEC) scored the first seven points of the game as part of a 12-2 run that helped the Rebels build a 27-23 halftime lead. Ole Miss led for 38:52 of the game, not trailing until LSU (15-12, 9-6 SEC) went ahead 55-54 on a 3-point play by junior guard Danielle Ballard with 1:02 left in the game.
Sisk rushed back the other way and drew the foul to get to the free-throw line, where she made her ninth and 10th free throws as part of her 10-for-10 game from the line. The Tigers went back ahead on their next possession, as Ballard came up with a loose ball and made a layup with 22.8 seconds left.
Instead of calling timeout to set up the offense, Insell let his team go the other way, as freshman guard A’Queen Hayes (Horn Lake, Miss.) hit McCray, who dove to the basket and found an open Faleru, who then drew the foul and went to the free-throw line with 9.3 seconds left.
“After the loss at Vanderbilt, we came back and we did two and a half hours of situational work, handling stations because we didn’t do that in that game,” Insell said. “After that game, I had to prepare them for situations such as that. When they scored to go up one, I didn’t see a player on our team that was worried. I believe if your kids are going, let them go. If you call a timeout, it allows them to set their defense.”
LSU’s leading scorer in the game, sophomore guard Raigyne Moncrief, had two looks on the final possession of the game, including a final attempt over Sisk coming out of a timeout called by Ole Miss with 2.0 seconds left in the game.
“Todd Schaefer and Sean Stephenson do a lot of our film breakdowns of the teams we’re playing and knowing them,” Insell said. “When we went back out there with 2.0 seconds on the clock, those two guys said call a timeout because they knew what they were in. Todd Schaefer took the board and told the kids what they were in, and that’s exactly what they were in. They had watched so much tape, they knew what they were going to the late in the game, and our kids executed it.”
The win sends Faleru and McCray, as well as senior guard Amber Singletary (Baltimore, Md.), out winners in their last regular-season games at Tad Smith Coliseum, as well as keeps the Rebels’ NCAA Tournament hopes alive going into the regular-season finale at Mississippi State on Sunday (1 p.m., Fox Sports Net) and then the SEC Tournament next week in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Amber Singletary, Danielle McCray and Tia Faleru bought in, those three kids bought in,” Insell said. “They had eight newcomers come in this year with them that they convinced to buy in because they were bought in. This program is going in the right direction because of those three seniors.”