The Ole Miss women’s basketball team opened play with their first exhibition game of the season, demolishing Christian Brothers University 100-53 at the Tad Smith Coliseum Friday night. This was the second consecutive year the Rebels have reached the century mark in their exhibition contest.
The Rebels opened the game aggressively with a deep three-pointer nine seconds into the game from the wing by sophomore Shandricka Sessom, immediately setting the tone for the evening.
Leading the team was junior Bretta Hart, who had her best game as a Rebel. Hart scored 16 points in the first half, finishing the night with 20 points, eight rebounds and four steals in only 17 minutes of play.
Hart will have big shoes to fill, since four players graduated last spring. One graduated player includes Tia Faleru, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season.
“I feel like I can do as much as (Faleru) can,” Hart said. “We’ve got so much depth on this team, and there are other girls in my position that can do just as much as she did.”
Assisting Hart was sophomore guard A’Queen Hayes, who finished the night with 18 points, 10 rebounds and a career high of eight assists.
Freshmen Torri Lewis, Alissa Alston, Jonell Williams, Madinah Muhammad and Cecilia Muhate Peńa all made their debuts in the win. Lewis had five points and two steals. Alston added three rebounds and four steals. Williams dominated the low post with her presence and physicality, tallying six points along with six rebounds. Muhammad led the freshmen with 10 points, going 3-6 from the field. Peńa also finished with six points.
“We are building a program,” Matt Insell, Ole Miss head coach, said. “A program that is further along that maybe what we thought we would be at this point.”
Insell said he understands his team is young and will make mistakes, but believes the players are talented enough to make the NCAA tournament.
“I was really happy with our effort, but we have some things we have to clean up,” Insell said. “One thing we’re trying to do is be the fastest team in the country on both offense and defense.”
Ole Miss didn’t shoot particularly well from behind the arc, but Insell said he believes believes the shooting will come when needed.
“We’re a really good three-point shooting team. That is not something that I’m concerned about,” Insell said. “We had one of those games tonight where we didn’t shoot the ball well.”
Ole Miss will be back in action as they tip off the 2015-2016 season officially at 11 a.m. on Nov. 13, hosting Mississippi Valley State in the 13th annual School Kids Game.