The Ole Miss Women’s Basketball team topped the Florida Gators Sunday afternoon 76-66 in The Pavilion, marking the first time since February 2017 that the Rebels have strung together back-to-back SEC wins.
After a big win at No. 16 Kentucky last Sunday, head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and the Rebels had a week to prepare for a home matchup against a struggling Florida team who, despite upsetting Missouri their last time out, rolled into Oxford with a dismal 5-12 (1-3) record.
Ole Miss jumped out to an early 22-13 lead over the Gators behind the sharpshooting of Shandrika Sessom who buried her first three shots from behind the arc in the first quarter. Florida would pull close before halftime, with the Rebels heading into the locker room clinging to a 34-33 lead.
“I told her after the Kentucky game, you can’t shoot 18 percent from the field. So we agreed that she would make 500 shots a day, so that’s the result of 500 shots a day,” McPhee-McCuin said about Sessoms, who ended with 19 points.
The Rebels were able to create separation in the second half, building a lead as big as 12 in the third quarter. Ole Miss would never trail throughout the contest as they controlled the tempo of the game through tenacious defense and unselfishness on the offensive end. The Rebels forced Florida into 16 turnovers and capitalized on the Gators’ miscues by scoring 28 points off turnovers.
LaKaris Salter and Taylor Smith each set career-highs in points. Salter finished with 18 and the freshman Smith dropped in 9 points of her own. Salter was the key for Ole Miss, winning the all-important points in the paint battle versus the Gators by scoring 14 of her 18 points in the paint, leading to a 32-22 edge for the Rebels down low.
“Coach always tells me if I get the ball on the block go to work, and I thought I had an advantage, so I took advantage of it,” Salter said, who went 8-of-13 from the floor in a career day for the Florida native.
Ole Miss climbs into the middle of the pack in a balanced SEC, sitting at 8-11 overall and 2-3 in conference.
“I call it The Hunger Games. You either eat or you’re eaten,” McPhee-McCuin said.
The Rebels will look to pull to .500 in the SEC as they hit the road for a trip to Nashville Thursday where Vanderbilt will be waiting for them. This will be a big test for the Rebels as Commodores enter the contest last in the SEC with a 5-13 (0-5) record.