Rebels fall to Kentucky in women's basketball

The Ole Miss Lady Rebels came out firing early but went cold late as Kentucky was able to escape the Tad Smith Coliseum with a 69-61 win Thursday night.

The Lady Wildcats improved to 16-9 on the season and 5-5 in SEC play, while Ole Miss fell to 18-7 overall and 7-3 in the conference.

The Lady Rebels began the game hitting on all cylinders, starting with Armintie Price taking the opening tip right through the Lady Wildcat defense for a lay-up.

Coach Carol Ross' bunch caught fire to start the game and jumped out to an 8-1 lead just four minutes into the contest, and stretched the first half lead to as many as 16 points with seven minutes to play.

Kentucky looked lethargic and uninspired to begin the game, but seized the momentum late in the first half with a flurry of baskets combined with a five-minute scoring drought for the Lady Rebels.

"The way we started was a little slow," Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss said. "Ole Miss came out on fire and then once we settled down and quit turning the ball over, I thought that we handled the pressure well and made a run right before the half."

The Lady Rebels enjoyed a double-digit lead for most of the first half behind 11 Kentucky turnovers, but the tide began to turn late in the half as the Lady Wildcats pulled to within four points (27-23) heading into the locker room.

Kentucky tied the game less than three minutes into the second half, but did not take its first lead of the contest until five minutes later on a Carly Ormerod lay-up. The Lady Wildcats stretched the lead to six with 10:30 to go and methodically kept Ole Miss at bay with a zone defense that was particularly effective.

DeMoss switched to the zone with roughly eight minutes to go in the first half, and did not stray from it except for the opening possession of the second half.

"We had success with the zone in Lexington but probably didn't go to it soon enough," DeMoss said of the earlier meeting between the two schools won by Ole Miss. "We stayed with that zone tonight, even when they hit a couple outside shots. We felt like that was our best defense tonight."

Ross was clearly disappointed with her team's effort, particularly on defense and rebounding the basketball.

"Obviously this game came down to defense and rebounding," Ross said. "They kicked our fannies all over the boards. Their post players were tremendous rebounding the basketball and ours were not. To win in this league, you have to defend and rebound and we didn't do either one of those very well."

The Lady Rebels and Lady Wildcats had 18 rebounds apiece at halftime, but Kentucky took its game to another level on the boards and out-rebounded Ole Miss 29-9 in the second half.

Kentucky's Jennifer Humphrey pulled down 16 rebounds and seemed to be a thorn in the Lady Rebels' side all evening.

"It was either poor coaching or poor playing," Ross said. "It looked to me like an effort issue, which I don't have control over, but at the same time, we obviously need to work on our fundamentals and find a way to be more aggressive in our box outs."

Price agreed with Ross after the game that the effort just wasn't there tonight on the part of the Lady Rebels.

"We just weren't going after it and giving a great effort," Price said. "We weren't boxing out and were expecting the ball to come to us. We weren't doing the things that got us here the first time which was out-hustling everybody and going to the ball."

Ole Miss cut Kentucky's lead to two points with just under four minutes remaining in the game, but nine straight points for the Lady Wildcats, capped off by a three-pointer from Jenny Pfeiffer, sealed the deal on this night.

Ashley Awkward led all scorers with 22 points for the Lady Rebels, and Price chipped in with 13 points and six assists. Kentucky was led by Pfeiffer with 16 points and Sarah Elliott with 14.

Ole Miss will next be in action this Sunday at home against Alabama at 2 p.m.

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