By John Pitts/NEMS Daily Journal
In the next-to-last weekend of the regular season, a good time to generate some momentum for March, both the Ole Miss and Mississippi State women’s basketball teams stumbled at home in SEC play.
Ole Miss (15-12, 6-8 SEC), playing at home, lost 68-59 to No. 25 Vanderbilt – the Commodores’ first victory in Oxford since 2003. It was the Rebels’ fourth straight loss and seventh in eight games.
Mississippi State (17-10, 8-6) turned in its worst offensive performance of the season, falling 50-36 to Auburn. The Lady Bulldogs had won two in a row.
A quick look at both games:
– Vanderbilt-Ole Miss: Jence Rhoads scored 19 points – with 10 of those after her team broke a 49-49 tie – for the Commodores (19-8, 8-6), who were coming off a 39-point loss to LSU.
Merideth Marsh added 14 points for the winners, which had a 17-1 edge in bench scoring.
Vandy outrebounded the home team 40-28. Ole Miss made just 13 of 24 free throws.
“We just couldn’t knock them down today,” said Ole Miss assistant Armintie Price. Vandy was 12 of 15 at the line.
SEC scoring leader Bianca Thomas finished with a game-high 23 points for Ole Miss, her 15th 20-point game of the season. Kayla Melson added 17 points and five assists; Kayla Holloway added 13 points.
– Auburn-MSU: The Lady Bulldogs honored its eight seniors but struggled on offense – with season lows for points and shooting percentage (14 of 50, 28.0 percent).
Auburn, which has now won three straight in Starkville, led 22-19 at halftime.
“You have to give credit to Auburn’s effort, as it was their effort that won them the game,” said MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis. “Our lack of effort and our lack of execution really hurt us.”
Chanel Mokango, one of MSU’s seniors, led the team, with 12 points. Point guard Alexis Rack, the SEC’s No.2 scorer, went 1 for 7 from the field and finished with 3 points.
Auburn’s bench outscored MSU’s 16-0. Alli Smalley led the Tigers (13-14, 4-10) with 17 points.