The Ole Miss Lady Rebels (6-1) are one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division-I women’s basketball teams feeling the pinch of being left shorthanded due to the COVID-19 health protocols in place for the 2020-2021 season.
Despite going into their first Southeastern Conference (SEC) contest against the LSU Tigers this past Monday, January 4, without their full roster, the Lady Rebels fought hard, before suffering an overtime 77-69 defeat.
The Lady Rebels had just eight student athletes to work with. Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said she made her players understand that it is possible this season could have moments across the league similar to Monday’s outing. With one more match-up with the Tigers looming (January 31), McPhee-McCuin believes they will be fully prepared.
“One thing that I told the players, we can't blame, complain or defend,” ‘Coach Yo’ said via the Ole Miss Athletics website.
“This is the COVID year, this is how it works. You'll be on a roll and then you’ll be out for two weeks. I felt like we were just fatigued. Obviously, we didn't have everybody, but I thought we had enough.
“There were opportunities in the game where we should have just won, but we didn't have enough legs. It's tough coaching in this COVID season, it's just difficult.
“Honestly, there were a lot of good things that I saw that we can build on in the future. We get to play LSU again, who is a veteran team, and I think we’ll have a better wind about our sails the next time we see them.”
McPhee-McCuin noted that it had been an uphill battle since December 19 when the team had to enter quarantine after positive tests for COVID-19 were reported. Ole Miss had a chance to score and win the game with the score tied at 64 in regulation. But Ole Miss’ Shakira Austin’s jumper did not fall.
“We had a chance to win it in regulation; got it (ball) to who I wanted to get it and it just didn’t go our way. We ran out of gas in OT.
“Hate it for our team, but (there were) so many good things I saw today. I’m praying we can play without interruption. With time we will flourish into the unit I know us to be. It’s still up and it’s still WE!” the daughter of Gladstone “Moon” McPhee shared via social media.
Austin led the way for the Lady Rebels with 20 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Snudda Collins chipped in with 14 points and four rebounds. Bahamian guard Valerie Nesbitt, who saw just 10 minutes of action, finished with zero points, but dished out three assists and two rebounds.
The Lady Rebels will welcome the Auburn Tigers, another SEC foe, to The Pavilion at Ole Miss this coming Thursday, January 7.