CLEMSON, S.C. - The Lady Rebels cruised early, but had to fight out a win in a tight contest as Ole Miss (2-0) pulled out a win late on the road, defeating Clemson (0-4) 70-66 on Monday night.
The Rebels grabbed a 19 point lead halfway through the second half, but a hungry Clemson squad fed off the energy of the crowd and clawed back into the game. The Lady Tigers cut the lead to three points with less than a minute to go before falling in the end as Ole Miss held on for the win.
Ashley Johnson led Ole Miss on the night, scoring 21 points as she went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Armintie Price also notched double-digits as she put up 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season, and 29th of her career. Danetra Forest also scored 12 points for Ole Miss.
Clemson was led by Maxinne White with a game-high 22 points, while Julie Tally added 18 points for the Lady Tigers.
"They hammered away at us and we didn't guard anybody late," said Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross. "We won a good ACC road game, and anytime you can do that with an inexperienced team is a plus. We didn't play well, and I'm not sure how we won, but I am thrilled for this team.
"Ashley Johnson played well in the first half and Armintie Price struggled and still got a double-double," Ross said. "She continues to produce, even when things aren't going her way. It's nice when you have players who aren't having their best nights and you can still get the win."
The two squads traded leads early, as the Lady Tigers struggled to find a rhythm with foul trouble and the Lady Rebels fought threw turnovers and missed shots. Eventually, Ole Miss got on track with a seven-point run sparked by a pair of free throws from Danetra Forest to push ahead of Clemson 19-11.
The Lady Tigers would make a run at Ole Miss, cutting the lead to two at 22-20, but Clemson would get no closer in the first period as the lead would grow again on a pair of free throws from Ashley Johnson and lay-up from Price.
The Lady Rebels pushed out to a 32-26 halftime lead behind the shooting Johnson, who led the squad with 10 points at the break. Johnson hit two three-point baskets and hit a pair of free throws in the first half.
Ellen Buchanan hit a jumper with five seconds left in the half to bring the Lady Rebels to the six point lead.
The second half opened with Jada Mincy nailing a jumper and hitting a free throw for an old fashioned three point play as she was fouled on the way up by Clemson's Kaihli Sanders. The play would be the beginning of a 19-6 run by the Lady Rebels as Ole Miss opened up a 51-32 lead at the 13:00 minute mark.
After the run, the Lady Rebels went cold for a stretch, allowing the Lady Tigers to close the gap and cut into the Ole Miss advantage. With 3:42 to go in the game, the home team had pulled to within single digits, cutting the lead to seven at 66-58.
Clemson cut into the lead more after the break, taking the lead down to four on a three-point basket from Julie Tally out of the timeout to cut the lead to 66-61. A second basket from Clemson as the Rebels went cold from the floor cut the lead even tighter to three at 66-63 with two minutes to play.
Sophomore point guard Tasi Worsham hit a big three-point basket with 1:25 left on the clock to push the lead back out to six at 69-63. Ole Miss continued to struggle from the floor, and fouls kept Clemson in the game as the Lady Tigers sank three of four free throws over the next 25 seconds to cut the lead back to three at 69-66.
Ole Miss will return home to take on No. 13 Texas Tech on Wednesday in a Thanksgiving eve showdown that sees the Lady Rebels seeking revenge for a loss to the Red Raiders last season.
"We really hope to get a good crowd out there on Wednesday," Ross said. "Tonight, Clemson's crowd really helped them out. The crowd gave the team energy and helped pick them up. Hopefully our fans will get out and help us. These ladies play hard, but they will play even harder if people come out to support them. We'd love to have a good crowd to support us in a sort of payback game on Wednesday."
The Lady Rebels and Texas Tech will tip off at 7 p.m. at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Lady Rebs beat Clemson 70-66
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