After defeating Gonzaga in the first round of 64 in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, the Ole Miss Lady Rebels took on Stanford in a game that many wrote off as a small roadblock and a definite win for the Cardinal.
Stanford had proven to be one of the four best teams in women’s basketball this year, which is why they were awarded a No. 1 seed. However, Ole Miss came into this game knowing they were the underdog, and with all the odds stacked against the Lady Rebels, they rose to the occasion Sunday night, beating Stanford 54-49 and advancing to the Sweet 16 round in the tournament.
Ole Miss knew that pulling off an upset depended on disrupting any and everything Stanford wanted to do. So the Rebels hung their hats on the defensive side of the ball and let the offense come later.
Because of this, Ole Miss was able to make Stanford, typically one of the most poised teams in the nation, look dismayed at times.
Ole Miss took 64 shots, while Stanford only shot 52. This 12-shot difference reflects just how disruptive the Lady Rebels were on defense. Additionally, Ole Miss forced the Cardinal into 21 turnovers, highly uncharacteristic of a Tara Vanderveer-coached team.
Furthermore, Stanford did not shoot a single wide-open shot all night, yet another testament to the smothering Rebel defense. This was a very hand-nosed, grind-it-out game, and the winner was always going to be the team that could string together more stops.
With that being said, three Ole Miss players scored in double figures: Marquesha Davis, Madison Scott and Angel Baker. But perhaps the more notable and impactful points came from Ayanna Thompson.
Thompson drilled three three-pointers, and they all seemed to come at a time when Stanford was about to go on a run. She was the separator for the Rebel, especially considering that both teams combined for only seven made three-pointers.
Ole Miss led by as many as 13, while Stanford never held the lead; in fact, there were only two ties in this game, and the only lead changes came in the early goings of the first quarter.
It was important for Ole Miss not only to get stops on defense but also to gain and maintain a lead. Ole Miss had some impressive comeback wins against Arkansas and Alabama this year, but the Rebels did not want to have to crawl back into a game with Stanford.
Fortunately for the Lady Rebels, they were able to persevere through every Stanford run and come out on top.
Head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and her team went to Stanford with aspirations of making it to the second weekend of March Madness. The motto of the weekend was that this was a business trip for the Lady Rebels, and they absolutely took care of business.
The Rebels will play the winner of the Texas-Louisville game on Monday, March 20, at 6 p.m. CST on ESPN.