Withstanding A Run

Ole Miss led big, then Arkansas made a run. But the Rebels withstood it and expanded the lead for an 86-71 win Sunday in women's basketball.

The Rebels, 11-5 overall, 2-1 in SEC play, led by 15 points in the first half and still led by 14 in the second half at 49-35 when the Razorbacks (8-8, 0-3) began to chip away. When C'eira Ricketts got a basket to pull her team to within two points at 62-60, the Rebels didn't panic.

In some similar instances the past couple of seasons, Ole Miss let some games slip away. But not Sunday. They simply turned to their leader, Bianca Thomas, who helped bail them out.

Thomas stole the ball and drove it down for a layup for a 64-60 lead. Then after an Arkansas miss, it was Thomas again who scored on another layup to make it 66-60 with just over eight minutes left.

The game was far from over, but the Rebs had withstood the Razorbacks' best shot.

After an Arkansas basket, Rebel LaKendra Phillips scored on a jumper with 7:27 left to make it 68-62, two of five points for Phillips in the contest, which head coach Renee Ladner said were important points on this day.

But the Rebels, on a 13-2 run at the time to stretch the lead back out to 75-62 with five minutes left, were able to answer what the Hogs had thrown at them and move on to claim an important SEC win.

It was the second victory in a row for the Rebels, who beat Alabama 70-56 last Wednesday night at home.

"I'm really proud of this group of girls," Ladner, in her third season as head coach, said. "We could have found a way to let this game get away from us, but we just found a way to keep putting points on the board and getting stops. (Arkansas) tested us. They've got a good basketball team. So I'm extrememly proud of the way we finished the game today."

Ladner said Liz Robertson's 13 points, seven rebounds, and a steal were key, but so was her effort, hustle and intensity.

"Liz is a guard that we play at forward, and she can set screens and pop and hit her shots," Ladner said. "It opens it up for Bianca. It opens up the paint. So I thought probably the difference in the game today was Liz. She is going to battle every game. This was probably her best game of the season."

Thomas led Ole Miss with 26 points, followed by Shantell Black with 14, Robertson with 13, and Kayla Melson with 12.

Arkansas had three players lead the way with 14 points – Lyndsay Harris, Charity Ford, and Ashley McCray.

The Rebels, ahead 43-33 at halftime, for the game shot 53 percent (32-16), including 43 percent from 3-point range (9-21) and 81 percent (13-16) from the free throw line.

The Razorbacks shot 46 percent (30-65), were 7-18 from 3-point range (39 percent), and 4-8 from the line (50 percent).

Ole Miss won the battle of the boards 36-33, including 24-18 on the defensive glass. Arkansas turned it over 13 times and the Rebels just nine.

The Rebs now have a week off before their next game when they host LSU Sunday at 2 p.m.

"Homecourt advantage is huge for us, and protecting homecourt is something we have to do," Ladner said. "We'll get ready for LSU, and we need a crowd of Rebel fans here Sunday to help us out."

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