Record-Setting Day

Big wins are normally team efforts, but Sunday afternoon might have been the exception. Bianca Thomas set a new Tad Smith Coliseum record for a women's player with 42 points to lead Ole Miss past 12th-ranked LSU 80-71.

"When you work hard good things happen," said Thomas, a senior from Henderson, Tenn. "I'm motivated to come out every day and work hard and compete. It feels very, very good today."

Thomas, who was already leading the Southeastern Conference in scoring at 21.7 points per game coming in, said this was still all about "team" and winning.

"Not only did we upset a top-ranked team, but we were able to move up in the conference standings," said Thomas, mentioning again that the team's goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament. "That really helps us out a lot."

The Rebels are now 12-5 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. LSU, meanwhile, fell to 13-3 and 2-2.

"To say that we're extremely happy with this win would be an understatement," said Ole Miss head coach Renee Ladner. "I'm happy for our seniors. They want to leave a legacy and they have a goal."

Ladner said Thomas obviously feels that sense of urgency to make a move toward March Madness.

"Bianca Thomas was absolutely on a mission today," Ladner said. "She's been disrespected for the most part by the league and hasn't been nominated for all the awards. She's very deserving and she proved that today."

The Rebels led 42-35 at halftime and never trailed the entire second half. LSU pulled to within 62-60 with 8:12 left in the game, but Thomas put the team on her back and carried the Rebels home. From that point on, Thomas scored 13 of the Rebels' final 18 points.

"I give Renee all the credit," said LSU head coach Van Chancellor, who coached Ladner in high school at Harrison Central and at Ole Miss. "She had a great plan, and Bianca Thomas made that plan look really good. They were running her off screens, and I thought they had a good offensive scheme as to what they were trying to do today. I thought we would eventually stop her, but we couldn't do it. They outplayed us in every phase of the game. They outcoached me, and they deserved everything. I'm disappointed for us, but I'm really proud for them."

Ladner said the Rebels wanted the game against 12th-ranked LSU to indeed be thought of as a big one, but that her friendly rivalry with Chancellor wasn't necessarily a part of it.

"I can like Coach Chancellor for 364 days a year, but today I cannot," she smiled and said. "He understands that, and we even had that discussion before the game began. It's hard to play against your mentor, and I'm sure it's hard for him to coach against me. He coached me for five years. But today it was all about the (Ole Miss) kids. They were outstanding."

In addition to Thomas' 42, Elizabeth Robertson had 14 and was the only other Rebel player in double figures.

LaSondra Barrett had 30 points for the Tigers, and Allison Hightower scored 13.

LSU won the battle of the boards 41-28. At the free throw line the Tigers were 12-15 and Ole Miss just 19-30.

The Rebels, who host Mississippi State Thursday at 7 p.m., shot 51 percent for the game (26-51) including 9-18 from 3-point range (50 percent).

The Tigers shot 44 percent (28-63) from the field and beyond the arc were 3-14 (21 percent).

But today was mostly about Thomas, when all was said and done. That, and the Rebels getting an important victory. Thomas admitted she feels she belongs among the league's best players and simply wanted to prove it on a big stage like Sunday turned out to be.

"I wanted to come out and show the world what I could bring to the table," she said. "When you feel it, you just keep shooting."

Good idea, too, because on this day, they kept going in at a record-setting pace.


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