Ole Miss head coach Renee Ladner isn't the easiest person to satisfy.
Sure her team sits 7-1 on the young season, but one half against No. 6 Texas is all it took for her frustration to reach a boiling point.
Ladner demands maximum effort. When the Longhorns outscored the Rebels by seventeen in the second half Sunday, she targeted lack of aggression as the key issue.
Trailing by merely six as play resumed in the second, the Lady Rebels allowed an 8-0 run by the Longhorns to fall behind by double digits. Texas used its unprecedented depth to wear down the Rebel defense and bury Ole Miss 74-50.
"I was very happy with our effort for the first seven games," Ladner said. "But lately, we're not sustaining effort. What a team like Texas does is take you apart. The game was ugly in the first half, but we played with them. What I was so disappointed in was we didn't come out and challenge them in the second half.
"Was it mental fatigue? That's what I saw in the second half. Texas just found their window of opportunity and took advantage of it. We never did."
With a rotation of roughly eight players, Ladner could tell her players were slowing significantly.
"It was a pretty good game in the first 18 minutes, but after that you could have packed it up and taken it to the house," said Ladner. "Texas dominated us for most of the game and in the entire second half."
Relying on newcomers in key spots, it would seem understandable to chalk effort deficiency on inexperience.
However, Ladner is past the youth excuse.
"I don't think our problems have anything to do with youth," she said. "I think there are kids that handle adversity. It brings out the best or the worst in you and I feel it brought out the worst in us. We have to grow up and play to our level."
Ole Miss faces its first true road test this weekend as the ladies trip to Raleigh, N.C. The Wolfpack present similar challenges as Texas and an ability to maintain effort throughout will be critical.
"We're going into a hostile environment against a team that plays very hard for their coach," said Ladner. "They're going to battle for 40 minutes regardless of the score. They're very guard oriented, with very good shooters. They also have the ability to create their own shots."
More importantly to Ladner, however, the game presents an opportunity for the young squad to put the demons of Texas behind them.
"It's not as much about them as it is about us" she said. "We didn't sustain our effort throughout the entire game against Texas. If we fail to sustain our effort in someone else's gym, we're not going to feel good about ourselves."
Ole Miss and N.C. State tipoff Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
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