After head coach Adrian Wiggins was fired in October, interim women’s basketball head coach Brett Frank had his back against the wall. So far, he’s made the best of a messy situation, as the Lady Rebels are 7-11 overall and 0-5 in SEC play. Ole Miss has had some close calls this year against LSU, Alabama and, most recently, a 73-72 overtime loss to Missouri.
The Lady Rebels came close to beating LSU in Baton Rouge. They held a 40-39 lead at the half. The game featured seven ties and 12 lead changes with LSU coming out on top, 84-79.
Against Alabama, the Lady Rebels would not go away. They trailed most of the game but made runs at the Tide. In the end, they couldn’t catch up, and Alabama won 83-75 in Oxford.
Sunday against Missouri, the misfortune continued for Frank and the Lady Rebels. The Lady Rebels made a play to tie the game at the end of regulation; however, at the end of the overtime period, they fouled and sent Missouri to the line with little time remaining. They hit one free throw and went on to win 73-72 in Oxford.
“I thought our effort was there,” Frank said. “This team’s resilient. This team will fight to the bitter end. As long as we have that uniform on that says Ole Miss, we’re going to fight and do everything we can to compete.”
Perhaps the brightest of bright spots for the Lady Rebels in SEC play has been sophomore Tia Faleru, who has averaged 16.6 points per game. She recorded a double-double in the SEC opener and scored a career-high 24 points against Alabama.
“Tia is such an important part of our game,” Frank said. “In conference play, she’s been phenomenal. She’s actually been phenomenal since the first week of December.”
Not to be overlooked this season is the play of sophomore point guard Valencia McFarland and junior guard Diara Moore. McFarland is averaging 11.3 points, 5.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Moore, a junior college transfer from Independence Community College, is averaging 11 points per game and has scored in double figures a team-leading 12 times this season.
The Lady Rebels will travel to Gainesville, Fla., to play the Florida Gators (13-6, 2-3) Thursday at 6 p.m. on CSS.
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss women’s basketball, follow @thedm_sports and @JLgrindin on Twitter.