The Ole Miss women’s basketball team will battle undefeated Texas Tech today in Lubbock, Texas.
The Rebels suffered a heartbreaking loss when freshman Sarah Dumitrescu tore her ACL during the first quarter of the match against Sam Houston State on Nov. 26.
Dumitrescu, a native of Romania and a four-star recruit from IMG Academy, will be out for the rest of the season. However, her impact has not been unnoticed.
Entering that match as the top rebounder for the Rebels, averaging 7.8 boards per game, Dumitrescu was ranked 13th in SEC rankings. Before her injury, she already had five boards in the first quarter.
“My heart is broken for Sarah, as she has worked extremely hard to buy into the role we envisioned for her on both ends of the floor,” said head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “She is loved by her teammates, staff and the Oxford community, and I’m certain that she will not only bounce back from this but come back even stronger.”
Over Thanksgiving break, the Rebels played a series of games against Louisiana Tech, Sam Houston State and Alcorn State to add three wins to their record. However, the Rebels suffered a 58-50 loss to Pitt last Saturday.
During the Daytona Invitational, junior Valerie Nesbitt averaged 17.0 points in two games. Nesbitt is also averaging 11.5 points in the season with double-digit games.
Still stuffing the stat sheet, Nesbitt currently leads the SEC in steals and ranks 11th in NCAA with her 3.8 steals per game average.
After an outstanding performance against Louisiana Tech, Nesbitt recorded a series of 12 points, eight assists, eight steals and six rebounds making her the first available documented Ole Miss player to hold both eight assists and eight steals in the same game.
Junior Deja Cage is also a force to be reckoned with on the court. She is ranked ninth in the SEC with 15.3 points per game. Cage also holds six different double-digit games and earned a spot next to three other players in the last five years with her career-high 30-point game against Louisiana Tech.
The Rebels lead the series with Texas Tech 2-1, but the Raiders are currently one of the 18 teams left undefeated. In Texas Tech’s last match, they defeated San Diego by four points, 64-60.
The Raiders also have Big 12 honoree and Texas Tech top scorer Brittany Brewer, who holds a 17.8 PPG. Brewer also leads the NCAA in blocks with 29 and blocks per game with 5.8.
The last time these two teams battled it out was in 2005 when Ole Miss beat the Raiders with a score of 72-69 here in Oxford. Ole Miss held a 51% shooting average and out-rebounded Texas Tech by 42-28.
Despite their latest loss, the Rebels gained an important lesson.
“(Pitt) came out and punched us in the mouth. Now we know what it’s like. You have to play every possession versus power five teams,” said McPhee-McCuin. “You can’t just come out and be bigger and stronger, that is not going to happen. Because of it, we did not come out of it with a victory, so we have to learn from this and keep going.”
The Rebels will carry on without Sarah Dumitrescu and try to win against the Raiders today.
Tipoff is set to 7 p.m. in Lubbock, Texas.