One got the feeling that there was no way Yolett “Coach Yo” McPhee-McCuin’s core players were going to let her lose in her first collegiate coaching experience in The Bahamas, and collectively they answered the call in the fourth quarter, putting on a defensive masterpiece that would certainly make other top level teams take notice.
McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels women’s basketball team did what they had to do, cruising past the Dayton University Flyers, 63-50, in their inaugural game of the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship, inside the Baha Mar Convention Center at Baha Mar on Monday night.
The Rebels turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter, holding the Flyers to just 10 points – none in a six-minute stretch midway through the fourth when they really took control. The Rebels went on a 14-0 scoring run in the fourth, and ended the game on a 19-6 run, improving to an unblemished 5-0 win/loss record on the season. The Flyers remained winless at 0-5.
The Bahamian women’s basketball head coach at Ole Miss said it’s a testament to their program and how they play ball. Coming into the game, the Rebels were just outside of the Associated Press’ Top 25 Rankings in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I women’s basketball.
“In the fourth quarter, we just decided to strap up and play ‘D’. At the end of the day, offense is something that we know we need but that is not our identity. Our identity is defending at a high level and I think that we did that in the fourth quarter. That’s our reputation and that creates easy baskets for us,” she said.
McPhee-McCuin leads one of the stingiest programs in the country, holding teams to just 50.8 points per game. They were right at that average on Monday night. The program’s first-ever McDonald’s All American Madison Scott was huge in the fourth quarter on both sides of the ball, chasing down ball handlers, swatting shots on defense and hitting key mid-range jumpers on the offensive side. She finished with eight points – all eight coming in the fourth quarter.
“I just told our girls to step up and be aggressive. Let’s be tough, disrupt their game and be aggressive in everything we do,” said McPhee-McCuin. “Maddy (Madison Scott) is a huge part of what we’re doing here at Ole Miss. She was in foul trouble late in the game, but she was itching to come in and have a big fourth quarter. When she came in, she was ready to go and we fed off that energy.”
Senior forward Tyia Singleton came off the bench to lead Ole Miss with 14 points and 13 rebounds last night – both game-highs. Senior guard Marquesha Davis added 10 points and five rebounds, senior guard Angel Baker contributed nine and junior forward Scott dropped in eight and added five rebounds. Senior point guard Myah Taylor scored seven points and added four assists and four steals. Junior guard Destiny Salary came off the bench to add seven for the Rebels.
Junior guard Destiny Bohanon was the only player in double figures for the Flyers, with 11. Junior guard Anyssa Jones had nine and freshman guard Nayo Lear and junior guard Taisiya Kozlova dropped in eight apiece.
The Lady Rebels led 17-15 after the first quarter, and were ahead by nine in the second before settling for a 30-25 lead at the half. The Flyers came back to trail just 42-40 after three. They pulled even twice in the fourth, before the Lady Rebels pulled away for good.
McPhee-McCuin said winning in her first collegiate coaching experience in The Bahamas was a special feeling.
“I got emotional right before the game writing on the board, because I have a lot of pride in being from The Bahamas,” said McPhee-McCuin. “This is where I’m rooted and I’m really excited that our team was able to come out and show a lot of toughness in the face of adversity. This feels incredible. We are a prideful people in The Bahamas, and for me, this means a lot. I was born and raised in The Bahamas and this means a lot for me – to be able to come here, play and have my team step up and play tough. It’s a special feeling.”
McPhee-McCuin hails from Freeport, Grand Bahama, and had quite a few family members and friends, including her parents Gladstone “Moon” McPhee and Daisy McPhee, in the audience, for her collegiate coaching debut in The Bahamas. She continues to make history as a trailblazer in women’s basketball, and sports in general, here in The Bahamas. On Monday, McPhee-McCuin became the first Bahamian, male or female, to lead a major NCAA Division I program as the head coach in a collegiate basketball game here in The Bahamas. The last time McPhee-McCuin coached at home, this past summer, she made history as an assistant coach for The Bahamas’ senior men’s national basketball team, becoming the first female to coach a senior men’s national team. Now, she is enjoying another coaching experience at home in a different capacity.
McPhee-McCuin spoke of the support she received from her family and friends in the stands after the game.
“There are a lot of them here. I spent a lot of money on T-shirts and hats,” she quipped. “I’m really excited that they came and were able to see me. A lot of them don’t know what I do and this is only a small part of it. For them to be able to come and see it, and have a respect for it, means a lot to me.”
It doesn’t get any easier for McPhee-McCuin and the Lady Rebels. They will play the number 17 ranked Utah Utes on Wednesday evening as the Baha Mar Hoops Pink Flamingo Championship continues.
“Utah is a ranked team and they are going to be a challenge offensively. We can’t get caught up in getting into a scoring match with them,” said McPhee-McCuin. “We just have to come out and guard for 40 minutes and see what happens.”
Following their game against the Utah Utes, McPhee-McCuin and the Lady Rebels will return to the Sandy and John Black Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the Texas Southern Tigers on Monday, November 28 at 8 p.m.