Remember last season’s game-winning tip-in from former Ole Miss forward Kenyotta Jenkins to beat Mississippi State 87-85 in overtime that gave Ole Miss their first SEC win of the season? Well, Mississippi State (20-2, 5-2) didn’t as Mississippi State freshman guard Morgan William drained a long jumper to seal the win for the Bulldogs 64-62.
“We didn’t get back in transition defense and then Morgan made an unbelievable shot,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell said. “I knew she was going to take it as the time ran down. She had no choice and she had to let it go. And then she raised up and made it. That kid made a tough shot.”
Mississippi State trailed going into halftime 34-30, yet rallied to claim the lead for good after a three-pointer from freshman forward Victoria Vivians with 16:33 to play. The Bulldog defense bullied Ole Miss (14-6, 4-3) in the second half as the Rebels were held to 26% shooting in the second half.
Ole Miss suffered a heartbreaking loss after playing its third straight game against a ranked opponent. The game was plagued by Ole Miss senior forward Tia Faleru’s foul trouble, as the Rebels continued to fight despite Faleru only playing 22 minutes. Faleru managed to score eight points and grab 11 rebounds in her short minutes.
“You’re playing without your All-SEC player,” Insell said. “She plays 22 minutes, and you still have a chance to win it. Tia Faleru is one of the best players in this league, and we really need her on the basketball court for us to be successful. It was hurtful for us to not have her for a large part of that game.”
Sophomore Shequila Joseph stepped up big in the post scoring nine points and grabbing six boards, while freshman point guard A’Queen Hayes led Ole Miss in scoring with 12 points and five assists.
This rivalry game was a thriller in a matchup of two of the most improved teams in the SEC. The last three matchups between these teams resulted in games decided by two points.
“What a great atmosphere for a college basketball game, Insell said. “Mississippi State has a really good team. I said that all week. I knew it was going to be a tough game. We have a pretty good team ourselves, and we’re getting better each and every day. I hurt for our players.”
The Rebels have time to shake off this loss as they will have a week off before their next matchup against LSU next Thursday, January 29 at LSU.
“It’s easy to get your head down right now and start pointing fingers, but we can’t do that,” Insell said. “We have to continue to stay together. We have a lot basketball ahead of us. We have a team that’s hurting. There’s not a player in the locker room that was not crying. That’s progress for our program. We have a team that expects to win.”