Ole Miss was leading but needed something to happen, that extra special effort from somebody just a time or two or three before the final horn to make a difference.
Jada Mincy stepped up. And crossed. She did it more than once, even though her head coach, Carol Ross, said not to, since she already had three fouls.
"She said 'Jada, do not cross.' She didn't want me to get another foul and maybe even foul out. But I had to do something. It was a momentum thing. We had to get a stop. We had to put our foot on top of their head, in a way. I had to swing the momentum our way."
Jada had a plan. She knew what she had to.
With 3:05 to go, Ashley Awkward made a free throw, then missed one. Ole Miss led 78-68 but it was far from over. So on the miss, Jada crossed over her opponent from her spot in the lane and got the rebound for her team.
Oklahoma then fouled Shantell Black. She went to the line. Made the first; missed the second.
Jada crossed over again. And she got another rebound for her team, now up 79-68 with 2:59 left.
Oklahoma then fouled Black again. She made the first and missed the second for an 80-68 lead with 2:56 to go.
In nine clock seconds of a critical game late in the action, Mincy proved what a senior leader is supposed to do; what an experienced, savvy veteran knows to do. One who doesn't want her season, her career, to end.
She stepped in and stepped up, got two big rebounds, allowed her teammates to get to the line and build the lead.
"I was thinking 'I gotta get there first. I gotta get there first.' Rebounds are about heart and desire and I'm not a great boxer out. I'm not the tallest girl in the world. but if I get there first and use the technique that God has given me to get there, then I can make something positive happen."
That she did at just the time when her team needed her most. The Rebels won 90-82 and advanced to Tuesday night's game against Tennessee for the right to advance to the Final Four just up the road in Cleveland, Ohio.
Everybody in the building and those watching on TV knew Oklahoma's 6-foot-4 Courtney Paris would be more than handful. They also knew she would get hers, and she did.
The sophomore center picked up her 61st double-double in a row, this time scoring 31 points and hauling down 20 rebounds.
The main two Rebels in charge of at least slowing her down were Danetra Forrest and Shawn Goff. They knew they weren't going to stop her, and they did an admirable job in the process.
"We've played against some great players, and we knew she would be really good," said Goff. "So we just went in there and did our best. You have to put more effort into what you're doing and try to box her out on rebounds and make sure she doesn't get second shots. You try to deny her the ball and limit her touches. She's a tough player to defend."
"Playing in our league and against great opponents prepared us for a player like her," Forrest said. "We try to focus on them as a team and not just on one player. When you do that (focus on one), you lose what you're trying to do as a team. She's a great player and she was going to get hers. She's a walking double-double out there."
Armintie Price had five steals against the Sooners. Her fourth one put her in the most elite company of all.
Only the legendary Cheryl Miller of Southern Cal had accomplished the following in a college career: 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists, and 400 steals. Now add Price to the select group of two.
"They've been playing this game a long time," Carol Ross said. "There've been some great players. For her to do this is special."
Ross has always felt Price brought so much to the game because of her passion.
"She plays it the way it's supposed to be played. She's shoulder to shoulder now with arguably the best. That's a group of only two who have done this now.
"Add little ole Armintie Price from Myrtle, Miss., to the list of the great ones who have played this game," Ross smiled and said.
Ross said her goal as coach at Ole Miss has always been to bring glory to her school. "A labor of love," she's said ever since she returned four years ago.
It's also about having the opportunity to allow her players to enjoy moments like these last three victories in the NCAA Tournament.
"To get to share these experiences with them and for them to have their moment is the greatest thing a coach can ever have," she said. "To see those seniors - Awkward, Price, Mincy - have that look and feel so good about themselves is all the reward I'll ever need. There's nothing better than that."
Notes from the Dayton Region
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