Ole Miss can’t overcome second half deficit, falls to Vanderbilt in Nashville

Posted on Jan 24 2019 - 9:55pm by Jack Gentry

Ole Miss Women’s Basketball faced off with the Vanderbilt Commodores Thursday night in the country music capital of the world, Nashville. Unfortunately for the Rebels, they left singing the blues after suffering an 80-68 defeat to the last placed Commodores, who claimed their first SEC victory of the season, 6-13 (1-5).

Ole Miss, 8-12 (2-3), entered the contest with a couple of unappealing streaks lingering over the program. The Rebels tried to end a drought that dates back to 1987, which is the last time Ole Miss came out of Memorial Gymnasium victorious. To put that into perspective, first-year head coach for the Rebels, Yolett McPhee-McCuin, was just four years old the last time Ole Miss left Vanderbilt with a win. The Rebels were also denied the opportunity to string together three consecutive SEC wins, a feat that was last done in the 2014-15 season.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Rebels held 16-14 lead behind 6 quick points from LaKaris Salter. The Commodores got some separation heading into halftime with a 36-29 advantage behind a 10-point outburst from Lealea Carter in the first 16 minutes.

Carter would go on to finish with a team-high 20 points for the Commodores. The second half was controlled by Vandy, relying on their inside game with Mariella Fasoula at the helm of the attack. The redshirt junior entered the game scoring at a clip of 16.9 PPG and hauling in 7.6 rebounds per game as well.

In addition, the Commodores’ forward was a dominant force in the paint, finishing with 19 points and nine boards. The Commodores controlled the inside doubling up Ole Miss 40-40 in the points in the paint battle.

Ole Miss had two players finish in double figures. The SEC leader in points, Crystal Allen, dropped 20 points on 5-of-19 shooting including connecting on four of her 16 attempts from three-point territory.

Shandrika Sessom chipped in with 14 points of her own and five rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Taylor Smith was a bright spot as the freshman scored eight points on a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor.

With senior leader, Cece Muhate, out with a concussion, McPhee-McCuin went with her 11th different starting lineup of the season and fourth in five games in the SEC. LaKaris Salter filled in for the injured Muhate Thursday night after a career-high 18 points in her last outing versus Florida. However, her performance faltered against the Commodores in a game where she did not score after the first quarter finishing with six points and seven rebounds.

The schedule does not ease up for the Rebels as they await a date with the No. 7 Mississippi State Bulldogs, 18-1 (6-0), in Starkville on Sunday at 2 p.m. The in-state rivals bookended the SEC preseason poll with the Bulldogs selected to finish at the top of the SEC while the Rebels were selected to finish in the basement of the conference.