Rebels Drop Heartbreaker to LSU in OT, 75-66
BATON ROUGE, La. – The Ole Miss women’s basketball team was in control for most of the game against LSU, but could not stave off a late fourth quarter charge as the Rebels fell to the Tigers in overtime for the second instance this season, 75-66, at the Pete Maravich Assembly center on Sunday.
Ole Miss (7-7, 1-7 SEC) held a 45-38 edge on the glass and scored 38 points in the paint, but LSU cashed in 25 points off of 28 Rebel turnovers while Ole Miss struggled from the charity stripe with a 16-of-30 clip. The Rebels were up by as much as 14 in the second quarter, but LSU charged back with a 20-12 fourth quarter to send the game into OT, where they reigned with a 12-3 advantage.
“We’re talented, but we’re not tough,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “We’re just not tough when it truly matters.”
Donnetta Johnson led the way with 18 points, while Shakira Austin and Madison Scott each finished with double-double figures. Austin’s 12 points and 12 rebounds marks the 19th double-double of her career, while Scott’s 12 points and a career high 16 rebounds gave her a second career double-double. Defensively, the Rebels forced 23 turnovers, their fifth game with at least 20 this season. Free throws played a key role in the second half, with LSU going 14-21 from the charity stripe while Ole Miss went 5-12 in the same stretch.
During the opening frame, both teams shot under 30 percent from the floor while Ole Miss was active on the glass with a 10-3 advantage. The Rebels held LSU without a field goal for the final 3:21 of the first quarter to go up 18-12 after the first 10 minutes of play. Ole Miss had 12 of 18 points come from Johnson and Valerie Nesbitt (nine points), who each had six apiece and 10 in the paint.
Ole Miss carried their momentum into the second quarter by taking a 14-point lead after a Collins three-pointer and 8-0 run spanning 1:23. Ole Miss had it’s largest lead of the game at 28-14 with 7:21 left in the second quarter. After a 2-of-7 start from the field, Ole Miss shot 56 percent and 10-of-18 going into the LSU timeout. The Tigers fired right back with a 7-0 run, while Ole Miss turned the ball over three times after a handful of possessions. Over the next five minutes and change, both teams would go back and forth as Johnson’s free throws allowed Ole Miss to go into the locker room up 35-28 – the first halftime lead in Baton Rouge for Ole Miss since 2013.
The Rebels shot 40 percent (12-of-30) from the field with 10 points coming from the free throw line (10-14). Ole Miss had a plus-11 rebound margin on the Tigers (24-13) and a 20-10 edge in the paint. Johnson led Ole Miss with 10 points while Nesbit had eight. Austin and Scott each had eight rebounds in 20 minutes played.
Coming out in the second half, both teams continued to try and find points in the paint while the Rebels maintained a multi-possession lead all the way through the third quarter. The Rebels avoided any major slides in the quarter, leading 51-43 going into the final 10 minutes of play. Both teams also faced foul trouble going into the fourth, with three players on each side with three or more fouls.
Ole Miss worked against LSU’s half-court press and went up by 10 early in the fourth thanks to a three-pointer from Mimi Reid (six points). Just like that, the Tigers got right back in it, thanks to missed layups and free throws to cut the deficit to five with just over three minutes left to play. After an Ole Miss timeout with 2:28 left, the Rebels led 58-53 after forcing four turnovers over the previous four minutes.
With Iyanla Kitchens fouled out of the game, LSU continued to attack the basket to cut the deficit to four with 57 seconds left, the closest margin since the first quarter. After back-to-back turnovers, LSU’s Khayla Pointer (25 points) scored on an and-one layup, making it a 60-59 game with 29 seconds left. Coming out of the ensuing timeout, Johnson got to the free throw line and connected on both with 23 seconds left, giving her team a 62-59 lead. With the shot clock expiring, LSU’s Karli Seay (13 points) banked in a three-point shot while being fouled by Johnson and connected on the following free throw to give LSU a 63-62 lead with 11.8 seconds left – Johnson’s fifth foul of the game. Reid drove to the lane on the ensuing Ole Miss possession, drawing a foul with 1.3 seconds to play. She split the two free tries, tying the game t 63-63 to force overtime once again.
The extra period began with turnovers from both teams before LSU scored on back-to-back Rebel mistakes to go up by four one minute in. Austin fouled out on the following offensive possession, and Tiara Young’s (two points) second-chance layup allowed LSU to go up by six with under two minutes left. The Tigers refused to be denied down the stretch, coming out on top in another thriller.
The Rebels return to The Pavilion this Thursday (Feb. 4) to take on the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network+.