Bahamian Valerie Nesbitt had a breakout 18-point game in a loss.
The Ole Miss Lady Rebels looked to score an upset victory of the number 14 ranked team in the United States, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but could not pull through in the end.
The Lady Rebels dropped to 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), 7-2 overall, after their 60-56 shortcoming this past Sunday, January 10. It was their first test on the road as they travelled to Starkville, Mississippi to face their in-state rivals.
The Lady Rebels are slowly regaining their full-roster after competing with just eight players over their last two games.
While the Lady Rebels’ Shakira Austin was held in check for the most of the contest, Bahamian guard Nesbitt played huge while trying to help lift the Rebels to their second win in conference play. She finished with 18 points on six-for-11 shooting from the field, six rebounds and three assists.
Donnetta Johnson, however, made up for a huge chunk of the Lady Rebels’ offense. She finished with 25 points and four rebounds. Austin, who has been the focal point of the team’s offense, finished with just six points on two-for-five shooting and 11 rebounds.
After several lead changes in the first half, the Lady Rebels eventually found themselves having to play catch up when they trailed the Bulldogs 50-38 at the end of the third quarter. It was Nesbitt’s burst of offense that helped the Lady Rebels rally late in the fourth quarter.
After going back and forth early in the fourth quarter the Rebels managed to hold the Bulldogs scoreless for five minutes, as Nesbitt and the Rebels went on a 10-0 run. Nesbitt cut the Bulldog lead to 56-54 with 1:26 left.
The Bulldogs managed to snap their scoring drought, but Nesbitt responded to keep it a two-point deficit at 58-56 with a minute left. With 25.3 seconds left, Nesbitt came away with a steal. Ole Miss then called a timeout with a chance to tie or win. However, Johnson’s two-point attempt fell short and the Bulldogs closed the game from the free-throw line.
It obviously was not the result Rebels’ head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin and the ladies would have liked, but she harkened that a lot of positives were taken from the defeat.
“That is what a rivalry game should look like. This isn’t a moral victory, but we did come on the road and compete against the No. 14 team in the country. A lot of things just didn't go our way.
“I just looked at them in the huddle and I said y’all, please do not quit on me right now. This is a moment of growth. I promise you we’re gonna have a chance to win this game. Let's just tie it up and put the pressure solely on them. If we lose, it's on me, so just play freely, and they just played freely.”
The Lady Rebels will now be back at The Pavilion at Ole Miss where they will take on the Missouri Tigers on January 14 to continue their SEC schedule.