UM women roll past UAPB 79-46

A sluggish start and a slow finish sandwiched a fabulous run by the Ole Miss women's basketball team in its Tuesday night 79-46 win against Arkansas-Pine Bluff at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum.

Ole Miss led 18-16 with just under eight minutes to go in the first half. Over the rest of that half and for the first couple of minutes of the second half, the visitors didn't score a point. By then, Ole Miss had rolled off 25 straight points to lead 43-16 and all that was left to be decided was the margin of victory for the Rebs. The largest lead for UM was 39 points at 65-26 with 7:33 left.

"We knew this game would be a bit of a challenge to get everybody focused," said Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross. "Even though we didn't start with it (focus), we did end up with it. And we ended up playing a lot of people a good number of minutes, which is a great thing to be able to do."

Ross said the run was important.

"You try to get better every time you step on the floor," she said. "For a while it didn't look like we were getting better. We finally got focused and made that good run before the half to set the tone for the rest of the game. That was good to see."

Thirteen players saw action, and all of them played at least 10 minutes. Armintie Price led the way with 14 points, followed by Tasi Worsham with 12 and Shawn Goff with 11.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 0-4 on the season, was led by Delores Hughley with 22 points.

Ross said she felt the Rebels' focus had to come from within themselves rather than worrying about the team they were playing.

"Sometimes you're not competing against your opponent, you're competing against yourself," Ross said. "Great teams try to get better every time they step on the floor. You try to raise your own levels. We just talked about trying to continue to take steps forward in being the team we can become."

The team they are now stands at 4-1 with a disappointing loss in overtime at Rice. Ross said the Rebels have taken the first five games as one segment of the season. Now with a trip to the Bahamas tourney up next, they will focus on two games there, starting with Northwestern University Friday at 5 p.m. Central Time.

"Obviously we wish we were 5-0 and not 4-1," the fourth-year head coach said. "We feel like we left a win in Houston that we can't get back. That's disappointing. During these five games we've been able to play a lot of players, which is good. I've been able to see them on gameday, see how they respond, which ones will play at a higher level on gameday, which ones will bring to the games what we see in practice every day.

"We've had a variety of games, including two tough road games (the loss at Rice and a win at UAB). We know that headed into the Bahamas we will be challenged. I've watched tape of Northwestern. They are stereotypical of Big Ten basketball. They're big. They're strong. They've got good shooters. To me it's a matter of can we make them play fast, or are they going to make us play slow. If we play their game, it will be tougher for us. If we can make them play fast, then we have the advantage."

The way the tourney is set up, the winner of Ole Miss-Northwestern will play the winner of Maryland vs. Gardner-Webb College. That opponent Saturday night will likely be the Terrapins since they are ranked No. 1 in the country and are the defending national champions.

"If we deserve to play Maryland, then we'll get a shot. If we don't, we won't," Ross said matter of factly. "We can't get to them if we can't beat Northwestern. All of us players and coaches want to play them, but we're smart enough to know we have to first play Northwestern and win to get to do that. To play the No. 1 team in the country in November would be a great experience for us to see where we are and see what we can do with that. I will be disappointed if we deny ourselves that."

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