Lady Rebels fall to Florida

Ole Miss's offensive struggles continued at home against Florida on Thursday night. The Lady Rebels' backcourt of Ashley Awkward, Ashley Johnson, and Armintie Price went a combined 5-37 from the field, and Ole Miss shot 29 percent from the floor in a 66-58 loss to the visiting Florida Lady Gators.

Danielle Santos hit four straight 3-pointers in a three minute stretch in the second half, and the senior guard helped turn the tide for the Florida Lady Gators en route to a 66-58 victory in front of 1,782 at Tad Smith Coliseum.

Santos's 3-pointers could not have come at a better time for the Lady Gators, who trailed 43-39 with eight minutes left in the game before going on a 16-3 run that covered 2 minutes, 51 seconds of the clock and gave Florida a commanding 55-46 advantage.

"We broke down defensively," third-year head coach Carol Ross said. "And when we broke down, (Santos) got open looks. Each team had those breakdowns tonight, but the difference was that when we broke down, they made their shots. When they broke down, we just couldn't get our shots to go down."

"This is obviously a disappointing loss for us," Ross added. "It was a typical SEC game that we played hard enough to win. We just couldn't overcome our performance offensively. We just couldn't make the big shots when we needed to."

Brittany Davis paced the Lady Gators with 15 points, while Dalila Eshe and Santos added double-doubles for Florida with 14 points/11 rebounds and 13 points/13 rebounds, respectively.

Carla Bartee led Ole Miss with 20 points on 8 for 20 shooting, while Danetra Forrest added career-highs with 19 points and 14 rebounds – including 10 offensive boards – to lead Ole Miss. Armintie Price finished the game with 14 rebounds and 8 points on 3 of 12 shooting.

The Lady Rebels led for most of the first half, grabbing an early 12-6 lead and nursing it throughout the game's first 17 minutes.

Florida rallied back, taking its first lead at 20-17 on Eshe's back-to-back layups with three minutes left in the first half.

But the Lady Rebels were quick to respond. Senior Ashley Johnson's 3-pointer tied the game at 20, and Ashley Awkward's jumper in the lane with five seconds left in the first half gave Ole Miss a 22-20 lead entering the break.

But Ole Miss's luck didn't hold out in the second half. Plagued by turnovers and poor shooting, the Lady Rebels were unable to hang on to their early second-half advantage.

After Santos's barrage of 3s made the score 55-46, Bartee and Forrest combined for 10 straight points, and Ole Miss cut the lead to 61-56 with 1:12 left in regulation. After holding Florida on defense, the Lady Rebels had a chance to cut into the lead further, but Awkward's missed 3-pointer allowed Florida an easy transition bucket and sealed the deal for the Lady Gators.

After losing three straight games at the Tad Pad, the Lady Rebels will look to regain their home magic in time for Sunday's contest against Kentucky. Game time is set for 2 p.m. CST.

"Our players take a lot of pride in playing here," Ross said. "And they have done a good job of defending this court in our first two years here. (But after losses to Georgia, Mississippi State, and now Florida), it's not mystique that is not allowing us to win. We have to find ways to score. You get energy from offense, but right now everything just feels like a struggle. We have to find ways to get the ball in the basket and get that part of our game back. When we do, we'll start playing well again."

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