Shandricka Sessom was able to find holes in Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s defense and her coach, Matt Insell, couldn’t do anything but smile as his star guard was able to knock down shot after shot.
And the shots kept coming for Sessom, who scored a game and career-high 28 points in Ole Miss’ 80-45 win over the Lady Lions Sunday afternoon inside Tad Smith Coliseum. The Rebels are now 7-0 all-time against UAPB and 74-6 against teams in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Sessom’s streak of scoring in double figures has extended to nine games.
“I just came out there to play; I wasn’t thinking about anything to hold me back,” said Sessom, who had six assists, four steals and three rebounds. “I just went to play.”
Ole Miss (5-3) did everything it was supposed to do to get its fourth consecutive win on the season by forcing the Lady Lions into a lot of bad offensive sets, which led to some easy transition points for the Rebels, who shot 40.5 percent from the floor.
Sessom and Muhammad score early and often for the Rebels
Ole Miss jumped out to the early 9-2 lead, then kept pouring it on behind the scoring tandem of Madinah Muhammad and Sessom, who combined for 23 points at the break. Muhammad scored the Rebels’ final five points of the first period, then Sessom knocked down two 3-pointers early in the second period to give Ole Miss the 32-15 lead with 6:25 to go.
Defensively, Ole Miss was just as good, if not great, forcing the Lady Lions into 23 turnovers that led to 35 points. The Rebels also won the rebounding battle, 47-36. UAPB’s junior forward Niyah Head was the team’s best offensive showing throughout the afternoon, scoring 16 points on 8 for 16 shooting.
Sessom and Muhammad were 8-for-24 from 3. As a team, the Lady Lions were 2-for-10. Muhammad finished the game with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting.
Sessom came into Sunday’s matchup against UAPB (3-5) with eight consecutive games in double figure scoring. Her 17.4 points per game average is currently fifth in the Southeastern Conference and she’s averaging 1.7 3-point field goals per contest, which ranks in the top 15 in the SEC.
Defense continues to improve
Insell never doubted his team’s offensive power, but was concerned of its defensive efforts after giving up 80-plus points in three straight losses to UL-Lafayette, Missouri State and Middle Tennessee State. Ole Miss didn’t get into defensive form until it went on a three-game streak, defeating Stony Brook, Wagner and Western Kentucky, holding all three opponents to an average of 53 points.
(Click here for Coach Insell and Shandricka Sessom in the post game press conference.)
“We are continuing to grow there,” Insell said about his team’s defensive efforts. “It all starts with our pick-up, picking the ball up and making the ball turn. We got a little out of sort there for a minute or two where we didn’t play particularly hard as we need to and got to playing the scoreboard a little bit.
“And that’s not the way we do things. But it’s just our energy and enthusiasm. We are very energetic. We are excited about playing. We are a good defensive team. We are too athletic not to be a good defensive team.”
And its energy continued against the Lady Lions, who scored 12 more points than they did in their 50-point loss to UAB on Thursday night. UAPB was 20 for 49 from the field and 3-for-13 from the free throw line. The Rebels had 23 second chance points and 10 fast break points.
Ole Miss finished the game with 20 assists on 32 made baskets.
Coach Matt Insell
Next game: 12/14 Rebels vs. New Orleans
FEATURE IMAGE CREDIT: JOSHUA MCCOY, OLE MISS ATHLETICS