BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Carletta Brown has known adversity in her Ole Miss women's basketball career. Last season the Ole Miss senior point guard hit a 3-point basket to send a Lady Rebel home game against Kentucky into overtime as two extra periods later the Lady Rebs won a huge one 90-88 over the Lady Wildcats. The game was played only days after a house fire had claimed the life of a Brown family member and severely injured another.
Early today, Brown found out that a group of her close friends and sorority sisters were involved in an auto accident coming home from the Ole Miss-LSU football game Saturday night. One lost her life.
So today in a 67-48 UM win over UAB in the 2004-05 season opener, Brown - just like against Kentucky last season - played her heart out.
"I knew she would want me to play today," said Brown of her late sorority sister, while also thinking back to last year when she played for her family after their loss. "I remember her cheering for me at our exhibition game (two weeks ago). I played today and did the best I could."
Her best was special indeed. She led Ole Miss with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range and 5-of-6 from the free throw line.
"Carletta continues to amaze us," Ole Miss Coach Carol Ross said. "Her maturity through adversity makes us all proud of her, and she continues to prove the type person she is. Our hearts and prayers go out to her and her sorority sisters and all their families."
As for the game, Ross said it was good to open the season with a road victory.
"We got the results we wanted, and that was good," Ross said. "It makes it extra special to get a win on the road this early. Anytime you can come into another team's gym and get a win is always a positive thing."
Ross specifically pointed out the support the Lady Rebs had today. Out of the 500 in attendance, Ole Miss had almost half the crowd.
"Our fan support was terrific," she said, mentioning that it was good to see so many Ole Miss fans who made it over from Mississippi by bus and also some Birmingham locals who came out to support the team. "They helped us play harder today. I think we have a team that fans will enjoy cheering for."
Early on it was a 3-point shooting barrage as both teams lit it up from the outside. The Lady Blazers were 3-for-3 early from long range, and the Lady Rebs' first basket had actually tied things at 3-3 as Brown was good from 3-point range. Later it was Brown's second trey of the game at the 13:20 mark of the first half that gave UM its first lead of the contest at 10-9.
The Lady Rebels began to stretch that advantage and led 37-24 at halftime. They would have had a much larger lead had it not been for horrendous free throw shooting. Ole Miss missed eight of 12 charity shots in the opening half but still led by 13 points at the break.
Senior Liz Cansdale opened the second half for Ole Miss with a 3-pointer, and that was followed by yet another Brown trey to put the Lady Rebs up 43-26. Ole Miss' largest lead was 21 points on several occasions in the second half.
The Lady Rebs continued to struggle with free throws in the second half and for the game finished 11-of-35. They shot 40 percent from the floor and outrebounded UAB 46-41.
The Lady Blazers were paced by Carmen Guzman with 15 points.
UAB fell to 0-2 with today's setback. The Lady Blazers had opened the season with a loss at Western Kentucky.
The Lady Rebs host longtime national powerhouse Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Lady Rebels are trying to set a new season opening attendance record and are offering complimentary tickets for the game that can be picked up at Kroger in Oxford as well as Wal-Mart in Oxford, Batesville, Pontotoc, and New Albany. Tickets can also be picked up in Oxford at the Oxford/Lafayette Public Library, Abner's, Bofield's, Pizza Hut, and Oxford/University Bank.
Lady Rebs roll 67-48
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