Injuries already making mark
Three Lady Rebs were inactive during Sunday's 86-60 win over Louisiana-Lafayette with varying degrees of injury. Top returning scorer Alliesha Easley tore her ACL in the season opener against Nebraska and will be out for the remainder of the year. The sophomore will be eligible for a medical redshirt and will have surgery soon. Easley averaged double figures as a freshman and scored 11 points against the Lady Cornhuskers.
"It is a big blow, but we just have to focus and hope it serves as a positive when someone else steps up," Renee Ladner said. "Maybe it will be good later considering we will have her for three more years. She was shooting a basketball during warm-ups if that tells you how dedicated she is to start the rehab process."
"With Alliesha out, we have to figure out how to fill that void," Shawn Goff said. "We have to all step up and find a way to score. That is a big part of our team gone."
Bianco Thomas and Brandi Tipton were also inactive against the Ragin' Cajuns with a strained muscle and a strained MCI respectively. Both are day-to-day.
Ladner implemented a new lineup versus UL-L with Shawn Goff, Elizabeth Robertson, and Kayla Melson as part of the starting five. It was Robertson and Melson's first career starts. The trio responded by all producing solid outings. Goff led the Lady Rebs with 21 points, while Robertson totaled 17 and finished 7-of-8 from the floor including a perfect three attempts from the 3-point line. Melson, the backup point guard, took Easley's spot on the wing, pouring in nine points and adding an extra quickness to both ends of the floor.
"I was nervous, but the coaches have helped me develop into a more mature freshman," Melson said. The game is speed, and that is our best weapon. I have to help lead this team in the right direction."
Cajun coach familiar with Lady Rebels
UL-L head man Errol Rogers is in his first year at the Sunbelt school after an assistant coach stint at Mississippi State. While with the Lady Bulldogs, Rogers made a name for himself with excessive celebration after MSU defeated Ole Miss at the buzzer in 2006. That image stuck with Ladner.
"I may have drawn a picture of him flipping across the floor, I may have done that," she joked. "It is absolutely motivation. This is my alma mater, and that is his alma mater. We are in the same boat and are trying to get as many wins this first year as possible."
Rogers assessed this year's Lady Reb squad.
"They have to find a leader. It is hard to replace an Armintie Price. Players like that don't come around everyday. The two young guards (Melson and Shantell Black) will be very good. You can see it coming."
About Alabama A&M
Alabama A&M (0-1) enters play having dropped its season-opener 72-70 at Jacksonville State as the Gamecocks converted a layup with three seconds remaining to earn the victory. Bulldog guard Rebekkah Barnes averages 21.0 points per game to lead Alabama A&M, while center Chaymieyon Moss averages 10.0 points per game as the only other Bulldog to average double figures. Last season, Alabama A&M finished the year with a 17-13 overall record, 13-5 in the SWAC en route to a third place finish inside the conference. Tuesday's game also marks the homecoming for Alabama A&M assistant coach Dorianne Johnson. Johnson played for Ole Miss from 1993-96 under former head coach Van Chancellor. Johnson, now in her second year at Alabama A&M, was a three-year starter for the Lady Rebels and helped lead the team to two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances along with several top-15 rankings.
Tuesday's game between Ole Miss and Alabama A&M will be the first meeting between the two schools on the hardwood. Although the Lady Rebels have never faced the Bulldogs, Ole Miss has experienced a great deal of success against teams hailing from the SWAC. The Lady Rebels own a 58-6 all-time record against teams from the SWAC and have won 44 consecutive games against teams from that conference. The last time Ole Miss was beaten by a SWAC team was Jan. 12, 1980 when Ole Miss was defeated 70-66 at Alcorn State.
***Ole Miss Media Relations contributed to this story.***
Lady Rebs to entertain Alabama A&M
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