OXFORD, Miss. – Senior point guard Erika Sisk was honored before the game between Ole Miss and Louisiana-Monroe for having become the 27th player in Rebel history to reach 1,000 points.
Then, Sisk and her teammates proceeded to annihilate the Warhawks to the tune of 97-40.
Sophomore guard Madinah Muhammad had a game-high 21 points, and junior guard Shandricka Sessom added 16 as Ole Miss (7-2) dominated ULM in the win Saturday afternoon inside The Pavilion.
Sisk had 13 on her special day, and senior forward Bretta Hart added 10 points for the Rebels, who have started the 2016 season 6-0 at home–the program’s best mark since the 2012-13 season when it started the season 7-0 on its home floor.
The 6-0 start at home is also the best in the Matt Insell era.
“Big win today. I’m really proud of their effort,” Insell said. “I couldn’t be more ecstatic about how we played today.”
The Rebels jumped out to a 24-0 lead in the first quarter and held the Warhawks (2-6) scoreless for the first eight minutes, until Alexis Collins’ short jumper ended ULM’s scoring drought at the 2:24 mark of the first quarter.
Junior forward Grabriella Cortez led the Warhawks with 16 points on 5 of 9 shooting. ULM’s other two double-figure scorers (Andreanna Jackson and Collins) combined for just six points on 2 of 15 shooting. As a team, the Warhawks shot 30 percent from the field for the game.
Ole Miss applied suffocating pressure to ULM’s offense, holding the Warhawks to 17 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes. The Rebels managed maintain the heat, outscoring ULM 18-6 in the second quarter to go into halftime up 49-11.
At the half, Sessom and Muhammad each had 13 points to lead Ole Miss.
The Rebels scored 29 points off of 31 Warhawks’ turnovers and shot 45 percent from the field. Insell was obviously pleased with his team’s performance.
“We get our enthusiasm from our defense. Same thing we did at West Virginia, we forced them into 25, 26 turnovers and we never pressed. We just sat in half-court and guarded people. We’re very good in guarding at half-court, and that has to continue. If that continues, then we have a chance to win a lot of basketball games.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell
Midway through the second quarter, freshman forward Kate Rodgers came down awkwardly on what it appeared to be her left ankle. She went to the locker room before halftime but returned in the second half. She finished with six points, on 2 of 5 shooting, in 11 minutes of action.
Insell on Sisk’s scoring achievement
“She’s someone that works extremely hard,” Insell said about Sisk, who recorded four steals and three assists against ULM.
“She’s worked extremely hard here to get to 1,000 points. It’s a huge accomplishment. Not too many players get to 1,000 points.”
Ole Miss: Saturday’s game begins a stretch of six straight home games for Ole Miss. The Rebels will close out the non-conference slate with their next five games, and then open SEC play on Jan. 1 when Arkansas travels to Oxford. Key non-conference foes on deck include Oregon and VCU.
ULM: The Warhawks have dropped their last three contests and six of their last seven. The Rebels were ULM’s second SEC opponent as the Warhawks took on Arkansas, falling 92-46 to the Razorbacks.
Ole Miss hosts Oregon on Wednesday (6:00 p.m. CST, SECN+). ULM hosts McNeese State on Tuesday (6:00 p.m. CST).
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)