Lady Rebs win SEC home opener

Arkansas had never beaten Ole Miss in Oxford. The Lady Rebels had won all 11 encounters prior to Sunday's matchup. Now make that mark 12-0 as Ole Miss won 63-55 in the SEC home opener.

"A lot of times this season we haven't been able to finish games," said an obviously pleased first-year UM head coach Renee Ladner. "Today we finished against a very good basketball team."

Arkansas came in 15-1 and ranked 18th nationally. But they were without their star player and leading scorer, senior center Lauren Ervin who is out for this season following an ACL injury suffered in the Lady Razorbacks' game Thursday night, a 76-54 loss to LSU at home.

"Any time you lose a game, it's hard," said first-year Arkansas head coach Tom Collen, his team now 0-2 in Southeastern Conference play. "We haven't felt losing many times this year. But losing on the road in the SEC is pretty common, and we know that as we rebuild this program, we have to be able to win on the road.

"We're now trying to find out who we are and who we can be without Lauren," he continued. "I'm proud of the fact that we battled for 40 minutes. That tells me we can be a good basketball team again."

Ladner's Lady Rebels, now 7-8 on the season and 1-1 in SEC action, were able to take advantage of a regrouping Arkansas ballclub while also playing well themselves.

"My kids played very hard again. We don't always play very smart," she said. "We had some young kids step up as well as Shawn Goff, and that was a key factor."

Ole Miss set the tone early and moved out to a 16-7 lead on a Goff jumper six minutes in. The lead was 14 points at 30-16 when Elizabeth Robertson made one of her four 3-pointers with a couple of minutes left in the first half. The Lady Rebs were up 31-18 at the break.

Arkansas trimmed the lead to four points on a couple of occasions. After two free throws by Charity Ford cut the Ole Miss lead to 40-36, the Lady Rebels regrouped and moved back out to as much as a 12 point lead, the last time at 57-45 with 2:25 left on a layup by Goff.

"This was very big for us," said Goff of the victory. "We needed a confidence booster. We came out and played hard, and we're going to continue to do that."

Goff led the way for UM with 17 points, followed by Robertson and Kayla Melson with 12 each and Carla Bartee with 11.

The Lady Razorbacks also placed four in double figures led by Brittney Vaughn with 15.

One significant stat for Ole Miss was 11 bench points to none for Arkansas.

Next up for the Lady Rebels is another home date, this time a week from today when South Carolina rolls in for a 2 p.m. contest on Sunday, Jan. 20.

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