Lady Rebels get first SEC win of season

Ole Miss 85, Arkansas 73

For senior center Amber Watts, the Lady Rebels' first SEC victory of the 2004-05 campaign was just a little more special than other games. Watts became only the 20th player in Ole Miss women's basketball history to reach the 1,000 point plateau by pouring in 21 points in the Lady Rebels' 85-73 victory over Arkansas in front of 1,863 at Tad Smith Coliseum.

"I'm happy to reach the 1,000 point club," Watts said. "Coach (Carol) Ross had been talking to me about stepping up and playing big as a senior. So I'm taking them one game at a time so I can be the post player she is looking for."

Ross said today was an important win for the Lady Rebs.

"It was a great SEC win," said Ross, whose team moved to 11-4 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play. "We did a good job of defending our homecourt in league play. I love the way we played. We really got kicked in the gut against Georgia, but we fought today and gave great effort and played like a great SEC team has to play."

Watts and sophomore sensation Armintie Price, who added 17 points and tied her career-high with 17 rebounds, took advantage of Arkansas' lack of inside play, and the Lady Rebels pounded the Lady Razorbacks in the paint by outscoring them 44-28 and outrebounding them 58-38.

"We're going to be small for the rest of the year," second-year Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner said after her team fell to 10-4 and 0-3. "They went hard to the glass. We talked about Price all week and how she was averaging nearly ten rebounds a game from the three spot. That's hustle, and today she was going after it and showed how tenacious she was."

"We got into foul trouble early, but Watts caused that," Arkansas forward Sarah Pfeifer said. "We were short of players in the post, and she was aggressive down there. She was hitting hook shots when she couldn't even see the bucket and people's arms were in her face."

Ole Miss got off to a quick start in the first half by grabbing an 18-11 lead with 13 minutes, 16 seconds remaining, but the Lady Razorbacks fought back. April Seggebruch's three-pointer tied the game at 24 before Ole Miss went on a 12-2 run to open the gap to 36-26. Ole Miss led 46-37 at the break.

Ole Miss stretched its lead early in the second half to 60-43 when Ashley Johnson hit a jumper with 13:56 remaining. Arkansas fought back to close the gap to 73-67 with 5:09 left, but Arkansas' Sheree Thompson missed a wide-open three-pointer, and Ashley Johnson got the lay-up and the foul on the other end to widen the gap. Arkansas wouldn't get any closer as the Lady Rebels hit free throws down the stretch to win by 12.

Five Lady Rebels notched double figures, including freshman Dee Forrest with 11 points coming off the bench.

"Their substitutes played great," Gardner said. "Even when Watts was out of the game and we made a run to cut it to six, their substitutes did a fantastic job."

The Lady Rebels will be looking to build on their first conference victory of the season when they travel to Kentucky next Sunday to take on the Lady Wildcats (10-5, 0-1), who fell to Alabama in overtime in Tuscaloosa on Sunday.

Injury Update

Ole Miss senior Carletta Brown went down with a turned ankle with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. Brown had scored 13 points and notched four assists before having to leave the game. Ross will be looking to use her team's week off to rehab and rest her injured starting point guard.

"We're fortunate that this is one of our bye weeks. We'll try to bring her along until our road trip to Lexington this weekend. But it was good that (Ashley) Awkward got some quality minutes that she handled well. Anytime one of your teammates goes down, somebody has to step up. It was good to see that - no matter what the prognosis is on Carletta - that we're capable (of playing without her)."

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