‘Tis the season to be jolly if you're an Ole Miss women's basketball fan.
Less than a week ago the unranked Lady Rebels defeated the visiting No. 10 Vanderbilt Commodores 76-66. Thursday night the Rebs (14-4, 3-0 SEC) did it again; pulling off their second straight upset at Tad Smith Coliseum, defeating the LSU Tigers (15-2, 1-1) 77-74.
"Anytime your win is heard around the country, then it's a program win. Certainly the Vandy win was good. I'm not sure what people thought about that win, but I know they didn't think we could turn around and back it up with another one," Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross said.
Ole Miss got out to a hot start, jumping out to an 11-7 lead on a slashing layup down the lane en route to putting up 38 points in the first half.
The Rebs' 38 points tied the most an opponent has scored on LSU in a half all season.
The Rebels and Tigers went on to exchange first-half blows until Ole Miss began to pull away; taking a 28-17 lead on an Alliesha Easley three from the corner.
On the Rebels' next possession Shantell Black stole a perimeter pass from LSU, gave a lead pass to Ashley Awkward, who then fed a streaking Armintie Price under the basket, scoring a fast-break layup while getting fouled to jolt the crowd from their seats.
The basket put Ole Miss up 30-19. However, Price missed her ensuing free-throw. Carla Bartee, who had come into the game off the bench, rebounded Price's miss and got the ball back later in the possession, draining a three to put Ole Miss ahead 33-19.
The Rebs headed to the locker room with a commanding 38-21 lead over their conference foes.
Awkard had a game-high 11 points going into the half, while LSU's 6-foot-6 All-American center, Sylvia Fowles led the Tigers with seven points and 10 rebounds.
The Tigers came out of the gate hard, riding a 20-5 run to pull within two, down 43-41. However, just when LSU would get within reach of the Rebels lead, one of the Lady Rebs would hit a crucial shot to hold off the surging Tigers.
LSU, keeping the Rebels within striking distance most of the second half, made another run as the clock dipped under two minutes to play in the game on the back of Guianna Chaney.
Chaney scored nine of her 19 points with under two minutes to play. However, the Rebels would not let the visitors take back a lead they had not held since the first basket of the game, holding on to beat the No. 5 team in the country.
LSU's Fowles had a game high 25 points, as well as 19 rebounds to lead both clubs, while Easley led Ole Miss with 19 points.
Ole Miss won not only the ballgame, but the turnover battle as well. They forced 20 Tiger turnovers, as opposed to 10 of their own. However, the Rebels were out-rebounded 43-32.
"They played tough defensively. They rebounded the ball, but not great," Ross said of her team. "But they battled and took great care of the ball. (Doing well in) Two out of the three (rebounding, defense, turnovers) was good enough for us to beat the number five team in the country, which really surprises me. I usually think you've got to sweep those three things to win, but I thought our X-factor was our crowd. I thought we were able to be a little deficient on the boards, but we still had the crowd who got us through two runs."
Price agreed with Ross' sentiments about the crowd playing a roll in the Rebels' upset over their rivals from the west.
"It feels good," Price said. "The crowd really came out and they knew we were going to need their help tonight and they came out ready to cheer and ready to yell."
LSU, whose only loss came at No. 15 Baylor, came into Oxford with an 11-game winning streak against the Lady Rebs.
The Lady Rebels next game will be Sunday when they travel to Lexington, Ky., to take on the University of Kentucky Wildcats at 1 p.m.
Ole Miss women's hoops team holds off LSU
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