Fresh off back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in a decade, the Ole Miss Lady Rebels kicked off the 2005-06 basketball season with a 95-67 exhibition win over a scrappy Athletes in Action squad.
Early exhibition games offer coaches an opportunity to see where their teams are in certain aspects of their game. Third-year coach Carol Ross was encouraged by some things she saw and realized the Lady Rebels need work in other areas.
"It's obvious that we've got work to do defensively," Ross said. "I thought we ran the ball well early in the game but got bogged down in the second half. We've got to decide if we want to be a fast-break team, then we've got to sustain that over the course of the game. When we do run the ball, we can put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses, but we're not really committed to it yet."
Four Lady Rebels scored in double figures. Dee Forrest led Ole Miss with 19 points and was nine for nine shooting from the floor. Sophomore Carla Bartee, a transfer from Western Kentucky, added 18 points and six rebounds. Junior sensation Armintie Price, a week after being labeled the nation's top No. 2 guard by ESPN.com, led the Lady Rebels in rebounding with eight and poured in 13 points before fouling out with 4 minutes to play in the game. Senior Ashley Johnson contributed 14 points to round out all double-digit scorers.
Kellie Carwell led Athletes in Action with 18 points, and also had six rebounds and two blocked shots. Molly McDowell added 16 points.
The Rebels got off to a quick start, going on a 16-0 run in the game's first seven minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers by Johnson and Bartee sparked the spurt, and Price and Forrest added two lay-ups apiece to get the Rebels started. But Athletes in Action kept it close, chipping away at the 16-point lead and cutting it to 8 at the half 38-30. Ole Miss outfouled Athletes in Action 18-5 in the first half, and AIA outshot the Lady Rebels at the free-throw line 17-1 to keep the score close.
The Lady Rebels extended the lead with a run early in the second half. Sparked by an Ashley Johnson three-pointer, the Lady Rebels jumped back out to a 13-point lead 45-32 at the 18-minute mark. Athletes in Action hung with the Lady Rebels for a while, but Ole Miss went on a 15-3 run midway through the second half to extend the lead to 20. Athletes in Action wasn't able to get any closer, eventually succumbing by a score of 95-67. Bartee led the Lady Rebels with 12 points in the second half.
The next time the Lady Rebels suit up will be in their first regular season game against Rice. Rice returns three starters and 12 letterwinners from a team that lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Georgia last season. The Lady Owls were the 2005 Western Athletic Conference Co-Champions after going 24-9 a season ago, and have been tabbed in the preseason to be C-USA's champion in their first year in the league. They are led by C-USA preseason player of the year Lauren Neaves and all-WAC tournament guard Krystal Frazier. Gametime is set for 7 p.m. on November 18.
Lady Rebs beat Athletes in Action
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