Carol Ross was looking for improvement from her team in the preseason and also preparation for Southeastern Conference play. Apparently she's gotten both lately.
Ole Miss rolled past Memphis 82-54 at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum Monday night before 2,116 for its sixth straight win and a 10-3 mark heading to Georgia to open league play Thursday night.
Ross said the victory against Memphis was basically a three-fold positive in her opinion.
"This was a great way to close out our non-conference schedule," said Ross, now 27-17 since coming to Ole Miss as head coach prior to last season. "This was a great way to compete against a regional rival. This was a great way to defend our homecourt. We continued to build the momentum tonight that we've experienced over the last four or five games. We should feel good as we head into league play. We're excited it's finally here. Now we can go have some fun."
But first there was the business of taking care of the Memphis Lady Tigers. Ole Miss opened up its largest lead of the game so far at halftime with a 38-28 advantage at the break. In the second half, it was a Lady Rebel runaway.
Armintie Price, with her fifth double-double (scoring, rebounding) game of the year, put on another clinic as she led Ole Miss with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Two Price free throws gave Ole Miss its largest lead up to that point at 50-33 with 14:17 left in the contest.
It was a LaTanya Jones 3-pointer at the 11:23 mark that gave the Lady Rebs a 20-point lead at 57-37. The largest lead of the contest for the Lady Rebs was actually the final score.
In the first half the Lady Tigers hung tough, and when they took the lead at 18-17, it was Liz Cansdale who sparked the Lady Rebs. The senior from Nevada had a hot hand in the recent San Diego tournament, and her 3-pointer tonight put Ole Miss back on top 20-18. Following a Memphis turnover, it was Cansdale again, this time for a two-point basket from 17 feet that put Ole Miss up 22-18, a lead they would stretch from that point on the rest of the game.
"Memphis was a team we had a lot of respect for," Ross said. "They played with energy and enthusiasm. They're aggressive defensively. They do a lot of things well. We just wanted to make sure we guarded them on defense and to go down on offense and hit shots. I thought we were able to do that during the stretch tonight where we were playing our best."
Ole Miss had a tremendous advantage on the boards, outrebounding Memphis 57-32, including 26-10 on the offensive boards.
Price said that stat and the overall play of the team, especially in the second half, was indicative of the effort they are playing with lately.
"I just think it is us being more aggressive," the sophomore guard said. "We came out and played hard, especially after halftime. We gave great effort and it paid off again for us tonight."
Memphis, now 7-6 on the season, was led by Raven Rogers with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Ole Miss rolls past Memphis 82-54
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