Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and the Ole Miss Lady Rebels had gone winless in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) since February 24, 2019. That losing streak was put behind them after their latest encounter with SEC foe, the Auburn Tigers.
Shorthanded once again with just eight players at Coach Yo’s disposal due to health and safety protocols, the Lady Rebels scored a gritty 62-58 victory to secure their first win in SEC play for the year. The win pushed their overall record to 7-1 on the season and 1-1 in the SEC.
Bahamian guard Valerie Nesbit tallied seven points and showed tenacity on defense as she came away with three steals. Her two free throws (five-for-six) with 14 seconds left in regulation also helped Ole Miss put the game away for good.
The Lady Rebels rode the coattails of Shakira Austin, who posted her second double-double for the season with 25 points and 10 rebounds. The bench provided a balanced scoring effort.
Snudda Collins also added nine points and three blocked shots, and Donetta Johnson chipped in with seven points and six assists.
McPhee-McCuin was ultimately grateful for the win and shared that she and the program have been striving to build a winning program within that conference.
“I’m Grateful for the win. I've been wanting a conference win for a long time. We had been working toward building something where we could try and find ways to get wins. I know this probably wasn't the prettiest game, but I'll tell you this, this is going to help us tremendously.
“Eight players again, we played Monday, practiced for two days and came back to play again Thursday and we found a way to win. That means a lot for our young team.
“After the mistakes we made versus LSU, there was a totally different look in their eyes.”
Prior to having their roster cut short due to COVID-19 protocols, the Lady Rebels had found continuity and stability with their players. Coach Yo noted in her postgame comments that around this time last year, she had gone through approximately 25 different starting line-ups.
While her team is still young, the Bahamian head coach said she is pleased with how the team has handled adversity. With Austin anchoring the team, as one of the most experienced players on the roster, McPhee-McCuin also discovered that she has found someone who has become a definite go-to in key moments.
“Adversity teaches. With the inexperience my team has and the inexperience with winning, Shakira is the only one that’s coming from a program that was winning. It’s been an adjustment for us to say the least.
“Last year I think by this time I had 25 different starting line-ups. Now we’ve had a consistent group. We talked and said how we respond today is going to show and build our character and I thought that everyone took that to heart.
“The huddle in the last two minutes was all positive and we got better.”
The Lady Rebels will be on the road for their next SEC encounter. They will take on Mississippi State on January 10 in Starkville, Mississippi. They will then have three days off before their next opponent, as they will welcome the Missouri Tigers to the Pavilion at Ole Miss on January 14.