January 3, 2015 11:41:18 PM
OXFORD -- Behind big games from sophomore guard Erika Sisk and senior forward Tia Faleru, the Ole Miss women's basketball team earned a 71-57 victory against Arkansas on Friday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams at Tad Smith Coliseum.
"We came out here and executed defensively and offensively, and we found a way to get a big win here to start 1-0 in league play," Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. "This is a huge win. You have to protect your house. There are 50-50 games in this league, that can go either way, and this was one of those games that could have went other way, and you have to win those games when they're like that. We did that tonight. I'm really proud of our basketball team.
Sisk led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Faleru picked up her third consecutive double-double, her fifth of the season and the 25th of her career, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Senior forward Danielle McCray added 11 points.
"This was my first SEC game as an Ole Miss Rebel," Sisk said. "It feels good. Coach always talked about how it's a new game, a new season, with new teams. It's not like the non-conference. We clicked tonight, we worked together, and we did what we were supposed to do."
Ole Miss (11-3) shot 50 percent (24 of 48) from the field, the highest field-goal percentage Arkansas (10-3) has allowed this season. Ole Miss turned 17 Arkansas turnovers into 28 points.
"The key offensively was staying patient," Insell said. "We're developing offensively. We're about five games into a new offense. It looks good at times, and we get stagnant at times, but when we had to execute, we were patient."
Ole Miss held Arkansas to 35 percent (18 of 52) shooting and limited sophomore guard Kelsey Brooks, the SEC's leading scorer, to a season-low nine points on 2-of-9 shooting.
"We have two players out there in A'Queen Hayes and Erika Sisk, and when they're motivated and they get up and down, I don't know if there are two better defensive players on the ball in the league," Insell said. "Those two kids took it as a challenge that Kelsey Brooks was the leading scorer in this league."
Ole Miss will play at No. 11 Kentucky at 1 p.m. today (SEC Network).
2. Caledonia's Nodine signs with MUW in track and field HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
4. Peters has moved from 'distraction' to 'leader' COLLEGE SPORTS
5. MSU women face longest road trip of season COLLEGE SPORTS