After an eight-day rest, Bahamian Yolet ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels got conference play underway with two wins in four days. Their latest win was on the road against the Mississippi State University Bulldogs, 61-50, at Humphrey Coliseum in Starksville, Mississippi, on New Year’s Day.
The win has the Lady Rebels sporting a 13-2 overall win/loss record and a 2-0 record in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. The Bulldogs dropped to a 12-3 record and a 1-1 SEC record.
The first win in conference play for the Lady Rebels came against the Auburn University Tigers last Thursday, 79-47, in a home game at the Sandy and John Black (SJB) Pavilion in Oxford, Mississippi.
McPhee-McCuin gave credit to the Bulldogs for a competitive game, but added that her team is on a mission, continuing a five-year journey.
“I’m extremely proud of our team,” McPhee-McCuin said. “I’m extremely, extremely proud of everyone who has gotten us to this point. It’s only game two (conference play this season), but this is year five and year five should feel like this. I thought both teams did justice to the fans. It was an incredible game. We felt like we didn’t have a good first half and so we tried to get a momentum in the second half. We were fortunate to come out of a raucous environment like this with a win.”
There was a strong defensive effort from McPhee-McCuin’s squad as they held the Bulldogs to 34.5 percent shooting from the field. The Bulldogs only made 19 of their 55 shot attempts.
For a second straight game, senior guard Angel Baker led the Lady Rebels in scoring, dropping in 22 points. She had a double-double as she added 10 points. She was one of two Lady Rebels to score in double figures. The other was junior forward Madison Scott who had 15 points. The duo helped the Lady Rebels overcome junior forward ‘Snudda’ Collins’ poor shooting night as she had just five points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field.
At the end of the third quarter, Baker connected on a jump shot to give the Lady Rebels a slim 47-44 lead going into the final quarter. Baker accounted for 12 of the Rebels’ 21 points in that third quarter.
McPhee-McCuin, known for her steady preaching of defense, pushed her team to victory in the fourth quarter. As a team, they held the Bulldogs to only six points in the fourth. They outscored the Bulldogs, 14-6, in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went 2-for-12 from the field in that quarter, shooting just 16.7 percent from the field.
“Holding a team like Mississippi State to six points in the fourth quarter, it’s incredible. It just shows the character of our team,” said McPhee-McCuin. “We believe in defense and we believe in it so much that it’s what is the engine to our offense. We feel like when we get stops, good things happen. I was incredibly proud of our group with the way we locked down. I think our defense is strong because we’re versatile. So, sometimes if we know we need to go big, we’ll go big, but if we need to go small, we’ll go small.”
Last Thursday, the Lady Rebels dominated the Tigers in all four quarters, finishing the game shooting 45.6 percent from the field. They held the Bulldogs to 25 percent shooting from the field. The Bulldogs never led in this game.
Baker led the Rebels in scoring with 18 points. Collins and Scott had 15 and 13 points respectively.
Ole Miss outrebounded their opponent, 53-37, and forced 18 turnovers in the 32-point blowout.
The Rebels return to the court on Thursday, hosting the Vanderbilt University Commodores (9-7, 0-2 SEC) in a game that starts at 7 p.m.