UM women's hoops team heads to Rice

The Ole Miss women's basketball team moved to 2-0 with a win at UAB Tuesday night. Next up for the Rebels is a trip to Houston and a Friday night date with the Rice Owls. Also, the Rebels signed two players in the early signing period. That info appears at the end of this story.

Katy Lonergan of UM athletics media relations contributed to this story.

It took a while in Birmingham, but Ole Miss finally shook off UAB and got a 14-point victory with a 99-85 final against the Blazers Tuesday night.

Senior guards Armintie Price and Ashley Awkward had career nights with Price scoring 34 points and Awkward 23. It's the type effort and production UM head coach Carol Ross wants from her seniors and needs from them for this team to be successful.

Ole Miss hasn't had any trouble scoring so far this season, averaging 95.5 points per game in wins over UAB and in the season opener against Southeastern Louisiana, a 92-46 victory.

Ole Miss is 3-0 against Rice in the all-time series, including last year's season-opening 110-63 victory in Oxford.

The Lady Rebels left Oxford today and after their flight to Houston, they'll spend the evening and have dinner with former Lady Rebel head coach Van Chancellor and his family. Chancellor has been the head coach of the Houston Comets of the WNBA since leaving Ole Miss nine years ago.

Ross and two of her assistants, Peggie Gillom Granderson and Renee Rutland Ladner, played for Chancellor during his tenrure at Ole Miss.

In the game at UAB, Price went over the 900 mark in career rebounds. She now has 903 boards in her career. Against the Blazers, Price connected on 16-of-21 from the foul line, while Awkward dished five assists and grabbed six steals, all career highs.

Junior forward Danetra Forrest posted a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, the second Rebel to do so this season. Sophomore center Shawn Goff tallied 15 points and 12 rebounds in Ole Miss' win over Southeastern Louisiana.

The Rice Owls have posted back-to-back wins to open the season with victories over Monmouth (76-45) and Rider (92-57). They return 83 percent of their scoring and 84 percent of their rebounding from last season's WNIT squad. Rice won 12 of its last 15 games last season and is a preseason favorite to win the Conference USA title this season.

Senior forward Lauren Neaves leads the way in both scoring and rebounding. Neaves is averaging 18.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in the Owls' first two games this year. Sophomore guard Maudess Fulton is chipping in 13.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game and junior guard Kadie Riverin has added 10.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.

The Owls have dominated the boards in their first two outings, outrebounding their opponents by an average of 13 rebounds per contest. They have also been impressive with their field goal shooting, connecting on 58-of-114 shots, good for 50.9 percent.

Ole MIss' Price is on pace to become just the fifth player in NCAA history to post 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 300 steals and 300 assists in a career. Price enters the Friday's game with 1,553 points, 903 rebounds, 276 steals and 260 assists through her first 93 games.

Price is being recognized by nearly all of the national awards as they open their watch lists for the 2006-07 season. Price has been named to the Margaret Wade Watch as well as the John Wooden Award Preseason list. The 5-9 guard was recently recognized by as one of the top five two guards in the NCAA and was selected by as a preseason Second Team All-America. Price was unanimously voted to the preseason First Team All-SEC by the league coaches and was also selected for the same team a panel of media at the 2006 SEC Media Days. She was also honored as a preseason All-America and First Team All-SEC by Basketball Times.

The SEC boasts three of the top 10 teams in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' poll released on Nov. 6. The league boasts No. 4 Tennessee, No. 8 Georgia and No. 9 LSU. Vanderbilt (15) and Kentucky (24) are the other SEC team currently ranked, with Ole Miss, South Carolina and Florida each receiving votes. Other teams on the Rebel 2006-07 schedule in the rankings include: Maryland (1) and Rutgers (13), while Rice and Penn State are also receiving votes.

Following the game at Rice, Ole Miss will return to Oxford to play host to Rhode Island on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Tad Smith Coliseum. The Rebels will then host Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before heading to the Bahamas for a tournament.


Ross announced the signing of two players this month in the fall signing period. Kayla Holloway of Dyersburg (Tenn.) High School and Kayla Melson of Sidney Lanier (Ala.) High School signed national letters of intent to join the Ole Miss women's basketball program beginning in the 2007-08 academic year.

"We are very pleased with our signing class," said Ross, who is entering her fourth season at the helm of the Ole Miss program. "Both Kayla's are not only outstanding players, but just tremendous people overall. Assistant coaches Jocelyn McGilberry and Renee Ladner did an excellent job of identifying these players as athletes we wanted in our program and we could not be more excited about them joining our team."

Holloway, a 6-3 post player, is one of the top players in the state of Tennessee. She averaged 16.5 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game as a junior at Dyersburg High through the first six games before having to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.

"Kayla Holloway gives us another strong body down inside," said Ross. "She's a player who comes out of a very good high school program in Dyersburg. She's a prototypical Tennessee post player. She's rough, tough and physical and she has that competitive fire in her that I love, and fans can appreciate as well."

Holloway earned a spot on the Class 3A All-State Tournament Team in 2005 after leading her squad to a runner-up finish as a sophomore. She posted averages of 12.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists that season. Holloway was selected by Street and Smith as a High Honorable Mention player entering her senior season after a solid summer with the Nike Tennessee Flight AAU team. Holloway helped guide the squad to a ninth place finish at the 2006 AAU National Tournament while averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per outing. Holloway, who is coached by Randy Coffman at Dyersburg, chose Ole Miss over Georgia, Vanderbilt, North Carolina State, Purdue and Middle Tennessee.

Melson, a 5-7 point guard, joins the Rebel program after leading her team to the Alabama Class 6A state title as a sophomore. During Lanier's state championship run, Melson averaged 17.1 points per game and 4.4 rebounds. She also had 97 steals and 73 assists and was named the Montgomery Advertiser Class 5A-6A All-Metro Player of the Year. Despite losing four starters from the championship team, she nearly took Lanier back to the state tournament in 2006. A 69-40 loss to eventual state champion Jeff Davis in the Southeast Regional finals ended the Poets' season. Melson led her team with 18.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while also collecting 116 assists and 100 steals as a junior at Lanier.

"Kayla Melson is a lead guard," said Ross. "She has a point guard mentality but she's capable of playing the one or the two. She plays the point position about the way Armintie Price plays the small forward. She's relentless, she's tough and she's physical. She is a powerful leader. She gives a lot and she expects a lot. I'm real excited about what she can bring to our club. She's a tough, competitive winner."

A native of Montgomery, Ala., Melson was selected for the 2006 Alabama North-South All-Star game, picking up Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 18 points, just four points short of the All-Star game record. Melson, who is coached by Steve Holloway at Sidney Lanier High School, chose the Rebels over Georgia, Auburn and Miami (Fla.).

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