Strong start to second half lifts Ole Miss

Ole Miss and Miami were tied 37-37 at halftime of their Thursday afternoon contest in Oxford. Seven minutes into the second half, the Rebels were up 57-37 after a 20-0 run, and the Hurricanes were done.

Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross admitted nothing much was said at halftime to get the players into a higher gear. The players agreed.

Basically it was more of a tone that the Rebels set for themselves right out of the second-half chute as a holiday crowd of nearly 1,800 rooted them on.

"We just came out and got after them (in the second half) and played our style of ball," said senior guard Armintie Price, who had 26 points, nine steals, eight rebounds, six assists, and two blocks in 31 minutes. "We just came out and played."

That they did, and the Hurricanes' head coach, Katie Meier, an old friend of Carol Ross, was impressed.

"Ole Miss just played a lot harder and a lot tougher than we did in the second half. I guess Coach Ross is a decent coach. She made OK adjustments at halftime. I can say that because we're old friends," Meier quipped, her team now 8-5 on the season. "I am impressed with their heart, their desire, and they just wanted the ball more than we did off the glass. They just wanted it more than we did when we had it, just taking the ball from us. There's a special spirit to their team."

Ross said it wasn't how hard the Rebels played - or didn't play - in the first half that was the problem.

"Our effort in the first half was fine," said Ross, her team now 9-3 with a tournament at Tulane up next on Dec. 29 and 30. "The players just set a great tone right off the bat (in the second half). When we subbed, we kept getting even better in some ways. We kept getting steals and converting them to points. If you can get stops (on defense) and turn those into points, you can build a big lead in a hurry."

After the Rebels built the 20-point lead to start the second half, the closest the Hurricanes would get again was 14 points at 72-58.

In addition to Price's 26 points, the Rebels were led by 16 points apiece from freshman guard Alliesha Easley and senior guard Ashley Awkward. Sophomore center Shawn Goff, improving with each passing game, also had 16.

"I just crashed the boards and tried to get as many putbacks as I could," said Goff, who, along with junior forward Danetra Forrest, had 13 boards each, as the Rebels outrebounded the Hurricanes 50-32. "I just tried to break Miami that way. It was fun on the boards out there."

Ole Miss had 38 points in the paint. The Rebels had 13 points on putbacks 14 points off fast breaks.

Miami had 28 turnovers, and the Rebels converted those into 38 points. Ole Miss had just 19 turnovers but Miami got 22 points off those.

Miami was led in scoring by senior guard Renee Taylor with 24 points. Junior guard Maurita Reid had 14.

Ole Miss plays Texas-Arlington at Fogleman Arena on the Tulane campus at 5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29. Depending on whether the Rebs win or lose that game will determine the start time and opponent for Saturday, Dec. 30.

It will be either Tulane or Fordham, and the game will be either at 5 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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