Transfer providing energy for Lady Rebs

Injuries have caused all levels of frustration and concern for Ole Miss (5-4) this season, but the Rebels received good news last week that may get their season back on track.

LaKendra Phillips, a Florida transfer, received the go-ahead from compliance and was able to suit up for Ole Miss starting with the visit to Penn State. In two games, Phillips has given the Rebels a versatile guard that is stabilizing the lineup.

After getting rid of the butterflies with two road games, Phillips makes her home debut inside Tad Smith Coliseum at 1 p.m. Friday as the Rebels battle North Carolina State (9-3) led by legendary coach 717-game winner Kay Yow. Admission is free.

"I was equally nervous and excited," Phillips said. "I put my uniform on three hours early and just paced around the lockeroom. It was really good to finally get out there for real."

The three-guard provided six points in a modest 12 minutes against the Lady Nittany Lions before breaking out in the double-digit victory over Miami. Phillips poured in 12 points, adding four rebounds and three steals in her second game in red and blue.

"I feel good out there, and am anxious to play at home for the first time," Phillips said. "The practice all season has kept me in shape, and I am doing what I can to contribute. There are things I can bring to the team and help it be successful."

Renee Ladner thinks Phillips can provide scoring and intensity that was lost when Alliesha Easley went down for the season.

"I hope that is the effect," Ladner said. "It is still too early to tell, but she does great things. Hopefully, we will continue to see that."

Continued Charity

Soon after playing the School Day game for area elementary school children and assisting with Mississippi Coast clean up, the Ole Miss women's team is back to giving this holiday season.

Ladner, her staff and her team provided Christmas presents for the local Salvation Army's Angel Tree project. Two Lady Rebels shared one child and put in $50-$60 each. More than $1,300 was contributed in total for the effort.

"I'm just elated and very proud that our players would do that," Ladner said. "This day and age, it is always about what we have and what we want, but none of us needs anything and they were all excited about giving to somebody else. The fact that they've made Christmas for 13 other children that are in much greater need than we are makes me very proud as a coach."

The decision to become involved was made as an alternative to the Secret Santa method of gift giving that the team usually uses for the annual Lady Rebel Christmas party. They decided to give to the children instead of one another.

"Every night people come in here and watch our players play and so many little ones out there would like to be just like them," Ladner said. "I don't want us to ever take this lightly, and I don't want us to ever feel entitled, so any time we have the opportunity to give back to someone less fortunate, I hope that we can do that for them."

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