OXFORD – The three Ole Miss seniors made sure their final appearance at Tad Smith Coliseum was a memorable one, leading their team to a 73-71 overtime victory against Auburn on Sunday afternoon to close the regular season.
Valencia McFarland scored 27 points, and fellow seniors Diara Moore and Kenyotta Jenkins added 10 each as the Rebels (11-19, 2-14 SEC) snapped a nine-game losing streak.
Junior Danielle McCray added 13 points and a team-best nine rebounds.
“I’m so proud of our team and the way they battled today,” said first-year head coach Matt Insell. “We’ve been so close the last several games and today we were able to make all the right plays down the stretch. It’s a testament to the work our players have done and it was nice to send the seniors out with a victory.”
His team plays Arkansas on Wednesday night in the opening session of the SEC tournament in Duluth, Ga.
Ole Miss won on Sunday without forward Tia Faleru, the team’s leading rebounder (9.8) and second-leading scorer (16.8). Insell said he hoped doctors would clear Faleru to play on Wednesday.
Auburn (16-13, 7-9) trailed 36-30 at halftime and held their only lead of the game at the 17:16 mark of the second half at 39-38.
The Tigers sent the game to overtime with a late 7-0 run.
Moore opened overtime with four straight points for a 71-69 lead and McFarland sealed it with a pair of free throws.
Jenkins, from Potts Camp, got the start and finished with 10 points on 5 for 8 shooting and eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Moore added a game-high eight assists and six rebounds.
Tyrese Tanner led Auburn with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Georgia 77, Mississippi State 48: MSU’s Bulldogs were overwhelmed on the road.
“It is the worst game of the year for us,” said MSU coach Vic Schaefer, whose team defeated Georgia 80-67 in Starkville oN Feb. 2. “They wanted a second chance at us and they got it.”
Mississippi State (18-12, 5-11 SEC) will play Missouri on Wednesday in a first-round game at the SEC tournament in Duluth, Ga.
Savannah Carter and Katia May each scored 10 points in the loss.
Merritt Hempe scored 22 points for Georgia (19-10, 7-9).