Erika Sisk made sure she set the tone for Ole Miss and got the entire team energized. Shandricka Sessom made sure her shooting touch was on point for a Rebels team that is averaging 74.5 points per game.
And both Sisk and Sessom did their part in helping Ole Miss (7-5) glide past McNeese State (7-4), 96-56, inside Tad Smith Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. Sisk led all scorers with 23 points, while Sessom recorded her second career double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
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Sessom extended her double-figure scoring streak to 13 games dating back to last season, which is the longest double-digit scoring streak on the current roster. Sisk, who was 7-of-13 from the field, made sure her team played with a lot of energy—especially since SEC play is coming up after Christmas.
The Rebels held the Cowgirls to 36.4 percent (20 of 55) shooting from the field. Ole Miss’ pressured defense also contained McNeese State’s attempts to get the basketball across half-court.
“Our momentum and energy starts with me, so I saw it was 8-8 and I had to turn it up and turn the game around,” said Sisk, who also had two assists. “So I just started playing hardcore defense to get the whole team motivated and bring energy to the team, and that’s what we did.”
After Torri Lewis’ second made 3-pointer of the game, McNeese State went on a 14-0 run in the third period to close its deficit to 22. Then Sessom’s 3 from the wing pushed the Rebels’ lead back up to 65-38, and all of the momentum shifted back on the side of Club Red.
Sisk recorded her eighth steal of the game at the 5:42 mark of the fourth period, setting a new career-high for the junior guard in a single game. Her previous record of seven was set last season against Southeast Missouri State.
Ole Miss went five minutes without scoring a basket; however, that’s not a concern for its head coach Matt Insell. “I laughed a little bit,” Insell said. “That’s not who we are. I didn’t call a timeout, because that’s part of growing as a team.”
First half surge for Ole Miss
After the two teams traded baskets for the first five and a half minutes, Sisk took matters into her own hands, forcing turnovers at mid-court that led to easy transition points the other way. Sisk scored three straight layups—all off of steals—to give the Rebels a 14-8 lead. Then Bretta Hart made an under-the-basket layup.
Ole Miss, which was looking for a bounce back win after coming up short against Tulane, 61-59, on Wednesday night, was just getting started.
A couple of possessions later, Sessom nailed her first 3 of the afternoon from the corner, then followed with a short jumper inches away from the free throw line. Sisk, who seemed to have sticky fingers on the basketball, scored six of the team’s final eight points of the first period, which the Rebels ended on a 12-3 run.
Ole Miss kept pouring things on in the second period, scoring seven straight points. McNeese State’s coach Brook Donald-Williams called a 30-second timeout, neither the timeout nor other adjustments seemed to help the Cowgirls, who ended the half 1-for-7 from the field.
No player for McNeese State had scored in double figures in the first two periods. The Cowgirls’ leading scorer, Allison Baggett, had only two points on 1-for-5 shooting. Their other two top scorers, Jayln Johnson and Amber Donnes, combined for six points on 1-for-4 shooting.
Keara Hudnall led McNeese State in scoring with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. Baggett had 12, shooting just 5-for-15 from the field. The Rebels scored a lot of their points off of the Cowgirls’ 33 turnovers, turning them into 40 points. Ole Miss led 55-21 at the
“Erika, Shandricka, and A’Queen (Hayes), I mean just right down the line. We just had a total team effort,” Insell said after the game.
Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics