Ole Miss falls to Florida in Rebels’ first game in The Pavilion
At first, things appeared to be going Ole Miss’ way in the early minutes of the first quarter after Madinah Muhammad knocked down the game’s first 3-pointer of the night; however, the Rebels couldn’t muster anything after that.
It was Florida (14-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), led by its smothering defense and physical play on both ends of the court, who was on its way to the 85-65 win over Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon in the Rebels’ first game inside the new $96.5 million arena, The Pavilion. (Click here for Box Score.)
The Gators are now 12-5 against the Rebels in Oxford and are on a two-game winning streak, following their 74-66 road win at No. 12 Tennessee on Thursday and the win over Ole Miss.
“I was extremely pleased with our first half,” Florida coach Amanda Butler said. “Wasn’t pleased that we started the first possession with a turnover, but we kind of expected that and that was how they were going to play. We’ve got to do a better job in those areas, but the first half, obviously, set the tone for the game.”
In the opening minutes, Muhammad’s three-pointer was followed with a layup by Shequila Joseph and a three by Shandricka Sessom. Ole Miss jumped out to an early 8-1 lead. Then things turned sour for the Rebels as Florida went on a scoring surge, outscoring Ole Miss 27-7 to go up 28-15 before the end of the first quarter.
Sessom and Alissa Alston each picked up three fouls and missed most of the second quarter and didn’t return until the start of the third quarter. Alston, who managed to play with four fouls, led the team in scoring with 17 points on 6 of 17 shooting. Erika Sisk and Muhammad each had 15 points. Sessom, who finished with eight points on the night, had a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Gators just got hotter in the second quarter as they built their biggest lead of 51-27 off two free throws by Ronni Williams, who had 12 rebounds to lead Florida. A mixture of Ole Miss turnovers and misreads on the defensive end led to the dominance by the Gators in the first 20 minutes.
“I would like to apologize to the fans for our effort; that’s definitely something we have to get fixed,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell said after the game.
Coach Matt Insell
The Rebels (9-6, 1-2) committed 21 turnovers, which turned into 26 points for Florida. The Gators didn’t have any issues finding great shot selections on the floor, recording 22 assists on 30 made baskets. Tyshara Fleming led Florida in scoring with 12 points and had seven rebounds. Redshirt senior guards Carlie Needles and Cassie Peoples and junior forward Williams each had 11 points, and 12 different players for the Gators had at least two points.
Ole Miss was 23 for 80 from the field and was out-rebounded 62-44.
Sisk and Muhammad combined for 10 of 30 shooting. Freshman guard Torri Lewis gave the Rebels a bit of a spark, draining a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left before halftime, but Florida’s Dyandria Anderson quickly scored a lay-up on the other end and the Gators led 53-30 at intermission.
“I thought we shot a good high percentage in the first half, and it was because we were getting a lot of layups and those were generated from our defense,” Coach Butler said of her Florida team, which committed 28 turnovers that led to 21 points for Ole Miss. “That’s how we like to play. It’s not an easy thing to do against really good teams, but I thought our kids really came to play tonight,” she added.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)