Ole Miss women rally in third quarter to defeat Georgia

Ole Miss Women’s Basketball vs Georgia at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.
Ole Miss Women’s Basketball vs Georgia at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Photos by Ole Miss Athletics

OXFORD Trailing by 12 points in the first half, the Ole Miss women’s basketball team (14-8, 3-6 SEC) used a 25-point third quarter to snap its four-game losing streak with a 69-62 win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon.

Madinah Muhammad (Chicago, Ill.) led the offense with 19 points and was joined in double figures by three of her teammates Shandricka Sessom (Byhalia, Miss.) had 16 points, while Alissa Alston (New Haven, Conn.) and Shelby Gibson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) added 12 points off the bench. Sessom led the way with a game-high eight rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, Ole Miss extended its 10-point lead to 12 points with a jumper from Sessom but Georgia got it to single digits and as close as seven points but Muhammad hit a jumper followed by a bucket inside from Gibson that kept the lead with the home team at the fourth quarter media timeout.

With 1:30 left, Georgia capitalized on the free throw line and cut the lead to four points but Alissa Alston (New Haven, Conn.) hit a runner in the lane and Ole Miss clamped down on the other end, forcing a jump ball in which they retained possession to take a 61-55 lead with under a minute remaining. The Rebels were clutch from the free throw line down the stretch going 8-of-8 to seal the victory.

Neither team was particularly sharp to open the third quarter but Taylor Manuel (St Louis, Mo.) hit a basket underneath while Muhammad hit a trey as Ole Miss cut the lead to just three points, 34-31 at the 6:53 mark. The Rebels clamped down on the defensive side of things and with a triple from Alston took their first lead of the game at the 6:00 mark.

After scoring just two points against Kentucky, Shandricka Sessom (Byhalia, Miss.) started to warm up in the third quarter with a pair of triples and as she reached double figures for the 17th game. Three point shooting was the name of the third quarter as Ole Miss drilled five third-quarter triples and shot 62.5 percent from long range in the quarter while running its lead to 37-39 with 2:18 left en route to a 51-41 lead at the end of three quarters.

Gibson again made an early impact against the Bulldogs with 10 first half points — for her second straight game in double figures. With Georgia leading 28-16, Madinah Muhammad (Chicago, Ill.) hit a trey and sparked an 8-2 run late in the half cutting the Bulldog lead to 34-26 at the end of two quarters.

Georgia jumped out to a 9-2 lead early before an old-fashioned three-point play from Shelby Gibson (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) gave the Rebels some life but Georgia responded with a 6-0 run behind triples from Mackenzie Engram and Pachis Roberts to take a 15-5 lead at the 4:01 mark forcing Ole Miss to call an early timeout. Out of the timeout, Gibson nailed a bucket underneath and after being fouled on the play gave Ole Miss momentum which lead to a 7-0 run cutting the lead to 15-12 with 1:17 left as Georgia took a 17-12 lead at the end of the quarter.

From The Head Coach

On the win…

“Couldn’t be more happy. We kept reminding them about loose balls, we kept reminding them about different things. It’s a great win. I told coach George Porcha after the game, he’s the only coach that has every convinced me to play zone. I hate playing zone, but for 40 minutes, we played zone. We played the percentages on them. They shot the ball well in the first half, but in the second half, they went cold on us. It’s a huge win for us. We needed that.”

On the biggest difference in the second half…

“We made shots in the third quarter for the first time in about a month. I told them during one of the timeouts, trying to loosen them up, ‘Y’all don’t know this, but I was a great shooter,’ and they all started laughing. ‘When a great shooter misses, he just keeps shooting. That’s what I did. I kept shooting and I finally made some, so how about y’all take my lead?’ And they were dying laughing, and they relaxed there. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it, but we made shots coming out of that timeout.”

On Ole Miss’ top performers…

“Taylor Manuel came out in the third quarter and set the tone. Madinah Muhammad played well, Shandricka Sessom played well. Shelby Gibson kept us in it. We were beat in the first half. We didn’t have anything going, and Shelby played her tail off. I couldn’t be more proud of how she played. That was huge.”

On the SEC race…

“There are going to be a boatload of teams in this league that have six, seven, eight, nine wins, and now we have a tiebreaker win over Georgia, tiebreaker win over Arkansas.

Rebel Sidelines

▪ Georgia’s Mackenzie Engram is very familiar with Oxford as her older brother is Ole Miss’ All-American tight end, Evan Engram.

▪ Ole Miss moved to 13-1 at home this season, the 13 wins are the most home wins in the Insell era.

▪ Shelby Gibson reached double figures for the second straight game with 12 points. She has now reached double digits in eight games this season.

▪ Madinah Muhammad posted her third consecutive game in double figures with 19 points. She has reached double figures in 12 games this season.

▪ Ole Miss’s 12-point comeback is the second largest of the season as the Rebels came back from 13 points down against Tennessee for a win over the Lady Vols.

▪ Alissa Alston reached double figures for the second straight game and for the fifth time this season.

▪ Ole Miss forced the Bulldogs into 22 turnovers and scored 20 points off those turnovers.

Up next: Ole Miss next hits the hardwood on Monday, Feb. 6 when they travel to Gainesville to take on Florida. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT and will air live on the SEC Network.

Next Five Games

Feb. 6 – at Florida 6 PM

Feb. 9 – vs. LSU 6 PM

Feb. 12 – vs. Mississippi State 3 PM

Feb. 16-vs. Auburn 8 PM

Feb. 19 – at Vanderbilt 2 PM

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