The Ole Miss women’s basketball team (11-14) lost a closely contested home game to Alabama (15-10) on Sunday by a score of 82-79.
The Rebels led for most of the game but failed to seal the deal in its dying moments, running into foul trouble and committing a game-changing turnover.
Ole Miss started out strong and took an early lead, going up 14-6 within a few minutes. It led at the end of the first quarter 20-17.
The Crimson Tide did not roll over and fought hard throughout the second quarter, but the Rebels were able to maintain their lead. Ole Miss showed plenty of first-half aggression on offense with 11 3-pointers, ending the half on an 14-4 run. As the teams retreated to their respective locker rooms for halftime, Ole Miss led 41-34.
The third quarter brought about some difficulty for the Rebels. Alabama emerged with a fire after halftime and overcame an nine-point deficit to take a 55-54 lead. Ole Miss, in turn, ran into foul trouble as Shelby Gibson and Alissa Alston each collected three fouls. By the end of the third quarter, the Rebels’ lead had dwindled to 56-55.
Something clicked for Ole Miss in the fourth as it went on a quick 7-0 run to start the quarter. The Rebels continued to struggle with foul trouble as Gibson picked up another and Torri Lewis collected her fourth as well. The Crimson Tide gradually clawed back into the game, tying the score at 78-78 with less than a minute to go.
Turnovers would prove to be the difference. Ole Miss’ 15 turnovers, three of which came in the last four possessions, ultimately cost it the game. One particularly untimely turnover provided Alabama with the perfect opportunity to take the lead at 80-79. Alabama added another basket soon after, inflating its lead to three. Head coach Matt Insell credited turnovers as the reason for his team’s late loss.
“We’ve got to protect the basketball. We can’t turn the ball over,” Insell said after the game.
With Alabama leading 82-79, Gibson missed a 3-point shot that would have taken the game to overtime, and the Tide sealed the win. Alabama outscored Ole Miss by four in the final quarter – just enough to make the difference.
“They played confident. They played hard. They did the things we asked them to do,” Insell said.
Lewis’ 26 points and five rebounds led the Rebel effort with help from Gibson’s 20 points and two rebounds. Alston put up 11 points and added nine assists and two rebounds of her own.
Jordan Lewis led the Crimson Tide to victory, contributing 23 points and seven rebounds on the afternoon. Quanetria Bolton scored 16 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Hannah Cook scored 15 points and three rebounds.
Ole Miss committed 22 personal fouls, while Alabama committed 17 infractions..
Sunday’s loss was disappointing for the Rebels, but Insell felt his group deserved a better outcome.
“We should have won the game; the foul discrepancy on the free-throw line was unbelievable. Some big ones were missed down the stretch,” he said.
The Rebels next take on the LSU Tigers at 7 p.m. Thursday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.