Price, Easley lead UM past Fightin' Illini

This one was all about senior Armintie Price. And freshman Alliesha Easley. And a bunch of Illinois turnovers.

Ole Miss beat the Fightin' Illini 75-50 in Oxford as Price recorded the first triple-double of her career, Easley had a career-high 25 points, and Illinois committed 34 turnovers in the contest.

"Ole Miss took us right out of what we wanted to do," said Illini head coach Theresa Grentz, cordial enough but short with her answers and seemingly disgusted by the day's turn of events as her team fell to 6-2 on the year. "We threw the basketball around today like it was a live grenade."

Ultimately for Ole Miss it was Price who went off. Scoring 34 points with 15 rebounds and 12 steals, she showed the world once again why she's one of the nation's best.

"I wanted to have a good game today," said Price, an understatement if ever there was one since Price only comes to the gym to have good games. "I wanted to step up for myself and for this team."

That she did, especially when her team needed it most. After Easley scored six of the Rebs' first ten points to give UM a 10-9 lead, Price scored the next six points with a couple of steals thrown in to give her team a 16-9 lead, the momentum, and force Grentz to call a timeout to slow things down.

That worked temporarily for Illinois, but the Price and Easley express rolled on. With the Rebs up 30-27, two Price free throws, followed by a jumper by Price, and a basket by Easley closed out the first-half scoring for a 36-27 Rebel lead. Nobody else had scored for Ole Miss in the first half but those two - Price with 23 points and Easley with 13.

"We talked about that at halftime," said Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross. "I was pleased with what they (Price and Easley) had done but disappointed others hadn't competed better, especially inside."

Others got into the act in half two. This one quickly turned into a rout as Ole Miss led 44-30 after a jump shot by junior Carla Bartee with 16:47 left, then pushed it out to a 52-33 advantage on an Easley layup with 13:53 to go. Bartee ended up as the third-leading UM scorer with 8 points.

After an Illini turnover, Easley then scored on another layup to make it 54-33 with 13:31 remaining, and Illinois didn't get it under 20 points the rest of the way.

"I just wanted to relax and have fun," said Easley, a Memphis Briarcrest product. "I wanted to play well and play confident."

Ross, whose team does not play again until Sunday, Dec. 10 when it hosts Penn State in Oxford at 2 p.m., said that's what she has been seeing from Easley for a while.

"She loves to compete and she loves big games," Ross said, after her team improved to 6-2 on the season. "And this was a big game, a Big Ten-SEC battle. She's tough, works hard, and plays with passion. When you do that, good things are going to happen."

On this day, it was indeed that way for the Rebels; clearly not for the Illini.

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