McPhee-McCuin, Rebels lose in overtime to No. 1 ranked Gamecocks

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Sheldon LongleySend an emailFebruary 21, 2023 129 2 minute readFacebookTwitterLinkedInShare via Email

 Ole Miss Rebels Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin reacts during the first half of an NCAA women’s college basketball game between Ole Miss and South Carolina in Oxford, Mississippi, on Sunday. The Rebels lost, 64-57, in overtime. AP

Bahamian Yolett “Coach Yo” McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Lady Rebels had the number one team in the nation on the ropes on Sunday, but fell in overtime, losing a hard-fought battle.

Playing on their home court at the Sandy and John Black (SJB) Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, the Rebels gave the University of South Carolina Gamecocks all they could handle, but couldn’t stave off a late surge by Zia Cooke and the Gamecocks on Sunday evening.

The Rebels had a lead in the final minute of the game in regulation and had a shot to win after the Gamecocks tied the game at 55, but Angel Baker missed a jumper, and a turnover with just two seconds left on the clock caused them. They failed to get off a potential go-ahead shot in the final seconds.

In the overtime session, Cooke and the Gamecocks took over, outscoring the Rebels, 9-2. Cooke scored five of her 24 points in overtime to help the No. 1 Gamecocks remain unbeaten, winning, 64-57, on the road.

In a matchup between two of the top defensive teams in the country, the defending national champion Gamecocks persevered, winning their 33rd straight game. They improved to an unblemished 27-0 win/loss record on the season, 14-0 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Rebels dropped to 20-7 and 9-5 in the SEC.

For the Bahamian head coach of the program, it was a tough loss. They never trailed by more than six points in regulation and flirted with their first win over a nationally number one ranked team in 46 years.

“Tough one. Man, today was an incredibly emotional game for me, our players, everybody,” she said to reporters after the game. “I just grew up looking up to Dawn Staley. I just have so much respect for her as a person. She has become a mentor of mine. To be able to take them into overtime and have an opportunity to win after being in our third game of the week was incredible.”

The Rebels have lost two straight and three of their last five games, but should receive some national rankings consideration after carrying the undefeated number one team in the nation to the brink of defeat.

South Carolina Head Coach Staley gave credit to the Rebels for forcing the issue and dictating the pace of the game.

“They were locked in,” she told reporters afterward. “They played their zone and were committed to it, and we didn’t handle it well until we actually had to, so it was a good game plan.”

She called the Rebels “an NCAA Tournament team”, and added that they certainly looked the part.

McPhee-McCuin and the Rebels are looking to make their second straight trip to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament this year after missing it in the previous 14 seasons.

Cooke had six rebounds and four assists to help offset a 7-for-18 shooting performance. Aliyah Boston added 13 points and 11 rebounds on 4-for-14 shooting for the Gamecocks.

Angel Baker led Ole Miss with 17 points. Silentianna “Snudda” Collins added 11 and Marquesha Davis had nine points and seven rebounds. Rita Igbokwe blocked six shots for Ole Miss.

Prior to Sunday, the Gamecocks had been winning by an average of 33.5 points. Not only did Ole Miss remain competitive throughout, but they had a shot to win. They rallied from a six-point deficit over the final seven minutes to force overtime, but went ice cold from the field in the extra session.

South Carolina made only 23 of 61 shots in the game (37.7 percent) but outrebounded the Rebels, 49-36, and shut down the Rebels in overtime.

McPhee-McCuin and the Rebels will stay home and host the Missouri Tigers on Thursday night. That game is set to get underway at 7 o’clock.

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