No single play more evidently showed the type of hustle and effort the Ole Miss Lady Rebels gave in their 72-69 win against Texas Tech than this one.
Ole Miss led 64-62 with just under three minutes left in the game. Junior Armintie Price was at the free throw line for a second free throw attempt. She had missed the first.
After also missing the second, sophomore transfer Carla Bartee raced under the basket past a Texas Tech defender and put the ball up and in to stretch the UM lead to 66-62.
The move and basket ignited the Thanksgiving Eve crowd announced at 2,211. Although the game was far from over, the Lady Rebels showed in that moment that they wouldn't be denied in this important contest.
"It was a great win for this team and for this program," Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross said. "Texas Tech is a highly respected women's basketball program. For us to be able to beat a team of that caliber is a great credit to our players who have worked so hard. It was also a great win for our program as well, because anytime you can do something of this magnitude, it has an impact not only on this team but also future teams and players here. We also wanted to give our fans something to cheer about. This is just the start of a very long and challenging home schedule for us."
But on this night it was all about beating Texas Tech. The Lady Red Raider head coach, veteran Marsha Sharp, said she and her staff and players knew beating Ole Miss in Oxford would be a challenge.
"We knew it would be a great game, and it was a good game for us to play," said Sharp, whose Tech program has been to 16 straight NCAA Tournaments, winning the NCAA national championship in 1993. "They did such a good job defensively and make you do so many different kinds of things. Give Ole Miss a lot of credit. They played really well and made some plays at the end when they needed to."
None may have been bigger than Bartee's putback of Price's missed charity shot. But there were plenty of others. Junior Ashley Awkward fed Price in the lane for a layup to put Ole Miss up 68-64 with 2:05 to go. After Tech cut it to 72-69 with 18 seconds to go, the Lady Rebels turned it over with 12 seconds to go. But the Lady Rebel defense smothered the Lady Red Raiders and didn't allow them a real shot at the basket, save a final heave from 3-point range which missed its mark.
Ole Miss led 35-28 at halftime. For the game, Texas Tech shot 51 percent (26-51), while Ole Miss shot 45 percent (26-58). From 3-point range the Lady Red Raiders were 4-11 and trhe Lady Rebels were 3-14. From the free throw line, TTU was 13-17, while UM was 17-32.
Latoya Davis led three Tech players in double figures with 19 points. For Ole Miss, Price had 24, followed by Bartee, sophomore Danetra Forrest, and senior Ashley Johnson with 10 points apiece.
Price, whose first basket of the second half put her into the 1,000-point club at Ole Miss for her career, also had 15 rebounds as Ole Miss had the better of it on the boards 42-28.
Ross said she would enjoy this one for at least a little while, even though there is an early wakeup call Thanksgiving morning.
"We found a way to beat a very good team when I really didn't feel we were at out very best," said an obviously happy Ross, smiling. "Of course, this would be even better if we didn't have a seven o'clock bus ride (to the airport) in the morning."
The Lady Rebels, 3-0 on the season with previous wins over Rice and Clemson, now travel to Kingston, Rhode Island for a tournament. Their first game is against Villanova at 7 p.m. CST on Friday.
Texas Tech, ranked 13th in one poll this week, fell to 1-3 and hosts Stanford Sunday.
Lady Rebels beat Texas Tech 72-69
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