OXFORD — Led by Valencia McFarland and Nikki Byrd, the University of Mississippi women’s basketball team beat Grambling State 78-53 on Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The win helped Ole Miss to improve to 6-1, which is tied for the second-best start under coach Renee Ladner. The 2008-09 team started 7-0, while the 2009-10 team started 6-1.
The win also pushed the Rebels’ winning streak to five, the longest since the 2009-10 season when Ole Miss won five straight from Jan. 6-24, and kept Ole Miss undefeated at home this season with a 4-0 mark.
McFarland led Ole Miss with 20 points, four assists, and five steals. Byrd recorded her fifth consecutive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Ole Miss built a 12-2 lead with 15 minutes, 24 seconds left in the first half before pushing its lead to 43-20 on a putback by Pa’Sonna Hope with 3:51 left in the half.
In the second half, Ole Miss took a 57-35 lead on a shot by McFarland with 15:06 to play. Jasmine Trotter’s layup with 3:40 remaining gave Ole Miss a 74-45 lead.
For the game, Ole Miss shot 42.9 percent (30 of 70), while Grambling State shot 30.4 percent (21 of 69). The Rebels had 17 assists and six blocked shots.
Ole Miss will play at 6 p.m. Saturday at No. 8 University of Miami.
n Ole Miss men will play at Penn State tonight: At State College, Pa., The Ole Miss men’s basketball team will look to continue its hot start at 5 p.m. today (Big Ten Network) when it takes on Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Ole Miss (6-1) has won at least six of its first seven games for the fourth time in the past six years. It has never won a road game against a Big Ten team. Last year, Ole Miss beat Penn State 84-71 in Oxford.
Ole Miss is coming off two program firsts in its past two victories. It earned its first home win against a team from the Atlantic Coast Conference in a 64-61 overtime win against Miami 64-61 and its first road win against a Big East team with a 70-68 victory against DePaul.
Junior forward Murphy Holloway is the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging a double-double in wins against Texas Christian and the University of Miami. He is one of two SEC players averaging a double-double (11.6 points, 10.4 rebounds).
Penn State (6-2) is coming off a 62-54 road win at Boston College on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions have a 4-0 home record entering today’s game. First-year coach Patrick Chambers, from Boston University, replaced Ed DeChellis, who went to Navy after leading the Nittany Lions to the NCAA tournament.
n Alabama women will play host to Kansas: At Tuscaloosa, Ala., The University of Alabama women’s basketball team (6-2) will play its second contest of the weekend when it plays host to the University of Kansas (7-0) at 2 p.m. today at Foster Auditorium.
“Kansas is a very good basketball team,” Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said. “They are coming in undefeated and will probably be the best test we’ve had to this point. If we execute and play our style of basketball, we have a chance to be successful.”
Alabama won its third straight game Friday with a 69-56 decision against Southeastern Louisiana at home. Five Crimson Tide players recorded double-figure points in the victory, led by sophomore Jasmine Robinson’s 13 points.
Kansas is coming off a 75-52 victory against SMU. Today’s game is Kansas’ second road game of the season.
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