Ole Miss falls 60-51 to No. 14 Mississippi State
OXFORD, Miss. — Twice during Sunday afternoon’s game against Mississippi State, Ole Miss had opportunities to cut its deficit to under five, but had trouble finding the right shot.
The Rebels also had difficulties stopping sophomore guard Victoria Vivians, who carried the 14th-ranked Bulldogs (22-6, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) on her back in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach and end her team’s two-game skid with the 60-51 win over the Rebels inside The Pavilion.
The win also completes the season sweep for Mississippi State.
“It’s been a hard three to four days,” Mississippi State’s coach Vic Schaefer said about his team’s back-to-back losses to Texas A&M and Kentucky. “I’m really proud of how they responded today.”
The Bulldogs were holding on to a 45-40 lead early in the final quarter, when Vivians turned on the switch, scoring five of Mississippi State’s next seven points to give the team a 50-40 lead. Vivians would score five more points midway through the final period and Dominique Dillingham made one of two foul shots to give the Bulldogs a comfortable 58-47 lead with 2:06 left in the game.
Vivians, who had the game-high 22 points and was named to the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 list on Wednesday, came out with under two minutes left to a standing ovation from the maroon clad visitors who cheered Mississippi State on from behind its bench.
Rebels show determination and heart
It appeared at one point the Bulldogs would have another dominating performance against Ole Miss, but the Rebels (10-17, 2-12) showed more fight and determination this time around than the last outing between both programs on Jan. 18 that ended in a 79-51 loss for Matt Insell’s young team.
On Sunday, the Rebels led 7-4 early in the first quarter off Bretta Hart’s layup. But things quickly shifted to the opposing bench.
The Bulldogs went on a 15-0 run that started with a jumper by Vivans and ended with a jumper by the team’s leading scorer. It was 19-7 with 1:02 left in the first quarter and the lopsided affair rolled into the second quarter when Dillingham drained a short jumper.
But Insell’s team gradually climbed back into it, by converting on its free throws. Shequila Joseph and Madinah Muhammad each made one of two from the charity stripe. A’Queen Hayes made both of her attempts and the Rebels were only down 23-18 at the 2:35 mark of the second quarter.
Insell was pleased with the grit his team showed:
Ole Miss head coach Matt Insell
Before halftime, Mississippi State went on a short run to push its lead back up to double digits. Back-to-back jumpers by Vivians, an uncontested layup by Morgan William, and one free throw by Chinwe Okorie took the Bulldogs into their locker room up 30-20.
Dillingham had 12 points for Mississippi State. William added 10.
In the final seconds of the second quarter, Vivians missed a 3-point attempt and Okorie was able to get the offensive rebound for the put back, but shortly into halftime the referees reviewed the shot and ruled it off. The Bulldogs were 24 for 47 from the field.
Ole Miss hosts No. 3 South Carolina on Thursday, while Mississippi State travels to Vanderbilt on Thursday.
Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, The Rebel Walk