OXFORD, Miss. – Matt Insell admitted his team was rusty Wednesday night against Mississippi Valley State, coming off a Christmas break that consisted of eating turkey and ham and all the trimmings.
But a little rust didn’t bother the fourth-year head coach. He just wanted his Rebels to finish the game with the win so they could start focusing more on the Southeastern Conference home opener Sunday afternoon against Arkansas.
Mississippi Valley State didn’t have a single post player who could contain Ole Miss freshman forward Shelby Gibson, who simply had her way with the smaller forwards of the Devilettes. Gibson added a game-high 16 points and seven rebounds to lead Ole Miss (11-2, 0-0 SEC) to an easy 67-30 victory over MVSU Wednesday night.
Shandricka Sessom added 11 points and Madinah Muhammad chipped in 10. (Click here for box score.)
“I think she’s as good, if not better, than any post player, in terms of freshmen post players, in this league,” Insell said of Gibson, who could have reached the 20-point mark if she had made all her free throws. She went 4 for 9 from the foul line.
“She may not look the part when she first walks out there, then she goes out there and dominates you, and she has done that her whole life.”
Matt Insell on freshman forward Shelby Gibson
Ole Miss went on a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter to go up 22-5. The Rebels scored eight of the 10 points from the foul line. The Devilettes (3-8) wouldn’t score until 40 seconds left in the first quarter off a layup from Christina Reed.
The Rebels’ offense simply ran through Gibson in the second quarter as she scored on four straight Ole Miss offensive possessions, and the Rebels built a 39-22 halftime lead. MVSU shot 15 percent for the game and didn’t have a single player score in double figures.
Reed led MVSU with eight points. Lauren Elliot had seven.
Ole Miss shot 36 percent from the field and scored 31 points off 40 Devilette turnovers.
“Our girls locked in there and played well defensively. We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we are a good shooting team. We will fix that. That’s really nothing to fix, but let them get back in rhythm.”
Matt Insell on the Rebels’ win
Ole Miss: The win over MVSU is the fifth straight win for Ole Miss and the 10th straight win at The Pavilion. The Rebels’ 10-0 start at home is the best start of the Insell era and is the best start since Ole Miss went 11-0 at home to open the 2006-07 season. The Rebels are one of only five SEC teams to be undefeated at home.
Ole Miss and MVSU met for the 18th time Wednesday night. The Rebels own a 15-2 series advantage. Ole Miss has won the last 10 meetings and is 13-0 in games played in Oxford. The Devilettes are the only non-conference opponent the Rebels have played each year of the Insell era. The 11 non-conference wins are the most for the program since the 2008-09 season.
MVSU: MVSU has lost its last three games and five of its last six. The Devilettes’ two double figure scorers, Christina Reed and Ashley Beals, finished with a combined 11 points on 3 of 22 shooting. MVSU finished with 43 rebounds, surpassing its season average of 35.5.
Ole Miss hosts Arkansas on Sunday (4:00 p.m., SECN) in SEC play for both programs. The Rebels are 2-3 all-time against the Razorbacks under Insell.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)