Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and the Ole Miss Rebels came into Wednesday night’s matchup with the Temple Owls seeking redemption after suffering their first loss of the young season versus IUPUI. Ole Miss did just that, coming away with a 62-55 home victory on Wednesday night.
The Rebels hit the ground running as they sprinted out to a 12-2 lead early while forcing Temple into a timeout to stop the bleeding. The Rebels would go on to close out the first quarter with a 21-8 advantage while forcing Temple into seven turnovers. Temple would climb back into the game in the second quarter outscoring Ole Miss 14-10 as the two teams headed into halftime with Ole Miss leading 31-22.
The game tightened up in the third quarter with Temple pulling even at 38-38 during a strong 13-0 run by the Owls. The Rebels responded by closing out the quarter on a 7-2 flurry and taking a 45-40 lead into the fourth, where they never looked back. Though the Rebels never trailed throughout the entire contest, there were times during the second half where lack of experience and chemistry were evident.
“We jumped on them early, but because we’re not used to winning, we don’t know how to put four quarters together,” McPhee-McCuin said after the game.
Crystal Allen spearheaded the Rebels’ offensive attack finishing with a team-high 16 points on 7-13 shooting. La’Karis Salter chipped in with 14 points while going 5-7 from the floor in what was her most efficient game of the season.
“We knew this game was going to be a tough gritty one so we really had no room to be lazy or lackadaisical. We had to play tough from the beginning and finish it out,” Salter said.
Gabby Crawford, who joined Ole Miss late in the offseason, played in her first game of the season after being cleared by the NCAA earlier in the day. The ESPN top 100 recruit finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks while logging 15 minutes in her debut.
“I don’t know if there is a word for how big it was to have Gabby,” McPhee-McCuin said through a smile. “She found out two hours before game time that she was going to play. For the whole week she didn’t even practice with us, she was on the scout team. For her to come and show the composure and the fight, I’m so pleased and happy for her.”
The next game for the Rebels is Sunday at 2 p.m. in The Pavilion against Western Michigan. This game will be important as Ole Miss looks to head into their Thanksgiving tournament, The Paradise Jam, on a positive note. UConn head coach Geno Auriemma and the No. 2 Huskies will be waiting for them in what sets up to be a Thanksgiving Day date in the U.S Virgin Islands.