No. 12 Texas A&M defeats Ole Miss 62-48 for third straight win
Walking into the post-game press conference, head coach Matt Insell didn’t have to say a thing about the Ole Miss Women’s Basketball team’s performance on its home floor Monday night against Texas A&M.
His facial expressions said it all following the Rebels 62-48 defeat at the hands of the 12th-ranked Aggies inside The Pavilion.
Insell mentioned his team was intimidated early in the first half, but he insisted he will figure out which of his players are thirsty enough for a win before heading to Knoxville Thursday night to take on No. 24 Tennessee.
Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell
Insell described what he will be looking for before the game against the Vols:
Texas A&M (18-7, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) led by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter and kept its foot on the pedal for its third straight victory while the Rebels were searching for offensive rhythm. Ole Miss (10-15, 2-10) came in on a five-game losing streak with its last loss coming at home on Thursday to Auburn, 65-60.
Coach Insell was hoping to see his team take the next step and get its second signature win on the season against a top 25 opponent, with the last one coming at home against Kentucky, 73-65, on Jan. 21. But without much in the way of offensive stability, the Rebels seemed stymied and were out-hustled by a more physical A&M team, which is now tied for second place with No. 14 Mississippi State in the SEC.
“This win was huge because we got the tiebreaker with Mississippi State now,” Texas A&M’s coach Gary Blair said.
Just like the first meeting, Texas A&M dominated from the opening tip on both ends of the floor. The Aggies led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter thanks to the wide open opportunities given to them by the Rebels.
Texas A&M used a 9-0 run to go up 11-2 in the first five minutes. Courtney Walker, the Aggies’ leading scorer, scored 5 of those early, easy scores. Senior wing player Courtney Williams had 12 points to lead Texas A&M. Walker added 11 points on 3 for 8 shooting. Chelsea Jennings provided 10 points in 17 minutes.
The Aggies continued their dominance in the second quarter, scoring the first six points to go up 23-7 following a layup by sophomore center Khaalia Hillsman, who was a perfect 3 for 3 from the field to go with her eight points.
Texas A&M went into halftime up 27-16 over the Rebels, who made 16 of 71 shots from the floor.
The Aggies weren’t that impressive offensively either, shooting just 41 percent from the field, but made the right plays when needed to keep the lead. Both teams ended the second quarter 2 for 10 from the floor. Sophomore guard Shandricka Sessom led Ole Miss with 13 points. Erika Sisk added 11 points and A’Queen Hayes had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Remembering Ty Laporte
Before tip-off, there was a moment of silence for senior Ty Laporte, 23, who was part of Mississippi’s volleyball team. Laporte, also a member of the track team, died in a two-vehicle crash last Thursday night.
Insell and others inside The Pavilion wore pins with ‘Ty 3’ on them in remembrance of the beloved player.
Laporte played a huge part in the Rebels’ two-consecutive, 20-win seasons–a first for the team in nearly three decades. As a senior, she ranked in the top 10 in the SEC in hitting percentage. She finished her volleyball career ranked fifth all-time in program history in kills (999) and third in both block assists (280) and total blocks (334).
If you would like to help Ty’s family with funeral and other expenses during this time of grief, please visit the website set up by the university.
Rebels travel to No. 24 Tennessee on Thursday.
Texas A&M hosts LSU on Thursday.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)