OXFORD — The Ole Miss women’s basketball team closed the game with an 8-0 run in the final 2 minutes, 13 seconds Thursday to beat No. 18 Georgia 55-52 at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The victory was the program’s first against a team ranked in The Associated Press Top 25 since the 2010-11 season, and also snapped a 24-game losing streak to AP-ranked opponents.
“What a huge, huge win for our program,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. “We put in a game plan, and our team executed it to a T. I can’t say enough about our players, the heart and the passion they’re playing with, the energy and the focus. There are so many words I can say about our basketball team. I’m so proud of them that they keep fighting until the end.”
Senior forward Tia Faleru and sophomore guard Erika Sisk had 12 points to lead four players in double figures. Junior guard Gracie Frizzell and senior forward Danielle McCray had 11.
“Our leaders, Tia Faleru, Danielle McCray, and Erika Sisk played big,” Insell said. “Gracie Frizzell shot the ball again really well.”
Down 52-47 with 2:22 left, Ole Miss (14-4, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) scored the final eight points. It forced three missed shots and a turnover in the stretch. An old-fashioned three-point play by Faleru drew the Rebels to within two with 2:11 left. Two free throws by McCray tied the game at 52 with 1:26 left.
“When she told she was ready to go, she said to go to her every possession, and that’s what you want your best player to do,” Insell said of Faleru. “You want your best player to want the basketball. She wanted it, and she got a big and-one play for us that kept us going. I’m really proud of her.”
Tied 52 with 50 seconds left, Sisk drove into the lane and drew a foul and made both free throws to give Ole Miss a 54-52 lead with 28.2 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, McCray stole the ball and Sisk made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 55-52 with 13.9 seconds left. Georgia missed the front end of a one-and-one, and sophomore forward Bretta Hart grabbed the defensive rebound to secure the win.
Ericka Ford led Georgia (15-3, 3-2) with 20 points. She was the team’s only player in double figures.
Ole Miss will face No. 11 Texas A&M at 4 p.m. Sunday (SEC Network).
n Southern Mississippi 77, Middle Tennessee State 75, OT: At Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Tamara Jones scored a game-high 35 points and Jerontay Clemons added 21 points and grabbed a team-best nine rebounds to help the Lady Eagles overcome a 19-point second-half deficit in their Conference USA victory.
Southern Miss (10-5, 3-1 C-USA) used an 8-0 run in overtime after Middle Tennessee opened with a 3-pointer. Clemons hit a driving layup to start the run and Jones scored the next six. The Blue Raiders hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 76-73. Middle Tennessee forced a turnover and scored to close within 76-75 with 16 seconds remaining. Jones was fouled on the inbounds pass, but she made 1 of 2 free throws, which allowed Middle Tennessee another opportunity to tie or win. However, the Blue Raiders’ 3-pointer fell short and Alex Coyne was able to corral the rebound.
“What a fabulous play and poise of this team. It was absolutely unbelievable how poised we play,” Southern Miss coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “We got down and we were able to just chip away. We stayed true to the course and we were able execute the things we had worked on in our game plan. I am proud of these players because they did an outstanding job. This is a marquee win for us.”
Southern Miss trailed 54-35 at the 12-minute, 22-second mark in the second half when it rallied. Jones ignited the comeback with a 3-pointer that started a 23-8 run to pull the Lady Eagles to 62-58 in a span eight minutes. In the final four minutes of regulation, Southern Miss outscored Middle Tennessee State 10-4. The Lady Eagles took its first lead since the 14:03 mark in the first half when Clemons grabbed an offensive rebound and scored with 44 seconds remaining. Southern Miss had an opportunity to add to its lead, but Jones hit 1 of 2 free throws. After a Middle Tennessee timeout with 4.7 seconds remaining, Olivia Jones got free and tied the game as time expired.
Ty Petty led Middle Tennessee (9-5, 3-1) with 20 points, while Olivia Jones had 19 points and 12 rebounds. Abbey Sissom added 17 points.