Lady Rebs rally for 64-61 win

It wasn't exactly the ideal way that third-year head coach Carol Ross wanted to win a game at home. After watching her team's 14-point first-half lead evaporate into a 6-point advantage for the Auburn Lady Tigers, Ross then saw her team respond with a decisive 14-5 run to escape with a 64-61 win at Tad Smith Coliseum. The win was the Lady Rebels' first home SEC win of the season and the first win at Tad Smith Coliseum since their 90-45 victory over Nicholls State on Dec. 18.

"Did we win that game?" third-year coach Carol Ross quipped as she walked into the media room after Ole Miss's narrow 64-61 win over the visiting Auburn Lady Tigers.

"What a great win for us. You scratch and fight, and we happened to do just enough of that today to get a little momentum and win. Nothing was easy, but we kept scrapping. It certainly wasn't our finest ballgame, but it was one of our finest hours."

Pre-season All-America guard Armintie Price led all scorers with 19 points, and anchored the Lady Rebels' game-ending 14-5 run that gave Ole Miss back-to-back SEC wins for the first time this season.

Trailing 56-50 with just over seven minutes remaining, the Lady Rebels got a jumper by Ashley Awkward, two free throws by Price, a 3-pointer by Carla Bartee, and a layup by Jada Mincy to take a 59-58 lead.

The Lady Tigers came back to take a 61-59 lead, but 6-foot-3 center Shawn Goff, who battled inside all day with 6-foot-7 phenom freshman Keke Carrier, hit a layup to tie the game 61-61. That's when Price took over.

After Auburn missed its next shot, Price drove down the lane and scored a layup after getting fouled to put Ole Miss up 64-61 with 1:08 left in regulation. Then she stole Dewanna Bonner's pass on Auburn's next possession to give the Lady Rebels a chance to ice the game.

"We always want the ball in Armintie's hands on critical possessions," Ross said. "We're fortunate that she's a playmaker, and once again today she made big plays."

Ole Miss, however, was unable to capitalize on its next possession, and the Lady Tigers, who had only attempted one 3-pointer in the game's first 59 minutes, hoisted up three 3-pointers to tie the game at 64. All three missed their mark, and the Lady Rebels escaped with a 64-61 win.

To go with her 19 points, Price also grabbed 11 rebounds, made six assists, and had six steals. Senior Ashley Johnson joined Price in double-digit scoring with 10 points.

For Auburn, guard Sherell Hobbs notched 17 points, and Carrier scored 15 points – all of them from the free-throw line or in the paint – and had seven rebounds, six of them on the offensive end.

Auburn outrebounded Ole Miss 45-32 and outshot the Lady Rebels 40.3 percent to 40.0 percent. Ole Miss, however, capitalized on 21 Auburn turnovers, and the Lady Rebels went 11 for 14 from the free-throw line, including a 7-for-7 clip for Price.

"I haven't been involved in too many games like that in this league," Ross said. "We got outrebounded; we didn't outshoot them; but somehow we won. You just have to hang in there and find a way to win. That's why I'm so proud of this team and this win. It's time for us to start winning again."

The Lady Rebels came out of the gate sluggish, falling behind 8-2 in the early going before finally kicking it into gear. Preseason All-America guard Armintie Price's layup and back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Ashley Johnson sparked a 33-13 run midway through the first half to give Ole Miss a commanding 35-21 lead. Price and Johnson had 18 of the Lady Rebels' 33 points during that run.

Auburn, anchored by guard Sherell Hobbs's three consecutive layups, responded with a 12-2 run of its own to close the gap to 37-33 at the half.

Auburn kept its momentum going in the second half. After Price and Mincy scored the first four points in the first half to give the Lady Rebels their biggest second-half lead 41-33, Auburn answered again.

Using its size in the post, Auburn pounded the ball down low to Carrier and 6-foot-4 forward Dewanna Bonner and quickly trimmed the lead. Carrier's two free throws gave the Lady Tigers a 42-41 lead, and Auburn built up its lead to as many as six 56-50 before Ole Miss rallied.

With the win, Ole Miss improves to 14-10 (4-7) and will travel to Kentucky on Thursday. Auburn, meanwhile, falls to 12-11 (3-7) and hosts South Carolina in its next game.

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