||Rebels win third straight, defeat Alabama A&M
OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) — The Ole Miss women’s basketball team picked up its third consecutive win with a 71-47 win over Alabama A&M on Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum. Tia Faleru led the Rebels with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds for her 23rd career double-double and first since the Nov. 20 game vs. Southern. Erika Sisk (Oxford, Miss.) joined Faleru in double digits with 12 points for her second consecutive game in double digits. In all, eight of Ole Miss’ players made it into the scorebook on the afternoon.
“First half I thought it was really, really good, said head coach Matt Insell. “As I tell them all the time, it needs to be about “ours” and not “I.” When we make team plays, great things happen for us. I was really proud of their focus and how they came out today. You are playing a team that hasn’t won a game. You watch them on film and you know you should beat them. So, it gets to where you get a little nervous about that. But, they came out with extreme focus and played. We are 9-3. We are a young basketball team. We are growing everyday and they are getting better. We are going to have a lot of those players here for a long time. I am really excited about that and the future ahead of us.”
After trailing by as much as 21 points, the Lady Bulldogs played much better in the second half and got as close as 14 points but the Rebels clamped down on defense and rolled to their third straight win and seventh home win.
For the second consecutive game, points off turnovers were crucial for the home team. Ole Miss (9-3) forced 22 Alabama A&M turnovers and capitalized on those turnovers to the tune of 25 points. The home team also really made every trip to the foul line count, shooting 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the charity stripe – their best outing at the free throw line this season.
“The defense is getting better and better every game. It is a team that is coming together. They are starting to communicate with each other much better. For the second game in a row, we got played in zone for about 98% of the game, and it just clicked a little bit more. They saw different openings that they did not see on Thursday. Those are some of the things I am excited about. They are a good group. They have fun playing the game. We have some hiccups from time to time. That is going to happen in conference play, too. But, how they respond to those hiccups is important. After our loss to Baylor, we have responded with three wins.”
Ole Miss jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes of the contest on the strength of timely shots from A’Queen Hayes (Horn Lake, Miss.) and a triple from Gracie Frizzell (Little Rock, Ark.). At the first media timeout, Ole Miss held a 13-4 advantage and didn’t look back extending its lead to 29-9 midway through the half.
Alabama A&M cut into the lead a little bit, using six points to cut the lead to 29-15 at the 7:47 mark, but Ole Miss responded with a 8-0 run fueled by a three-point play from Faleru, forcing the Lady Bulldogs to call a timeout but Ole Miss closed the half with a six points to take a 43-27 lead into halftime.
Three-point shooting was crucial in the first half, as Ole Miss got hot from long range early. Ole Miss shot 45 percent on 5-of-11 shooting from behind the arc in the first half, including a combined four first half triples from Frizzell and Shequila Joseph (London, England).
Ole Miss will break for the holidays and will return home to face former Ole Miss women’s basketball player Yolanda Moore and her Southeast Louisiana squad on Dec. 29 at 6 p.m. before opening up SEC action on Jan. 2 when the Arkansas Razorbacks travel to Oxford. Tipoff for the Arkansas game is set for 6 p.m.