By The Associated Press
ATHENS, Ga. — Bianca Thomas shot Ole Miss right to the top of the SEC.
Her late 3-pointer gave Ole Miss a 66-65 upset of No. 8 Georgia on Sunday, its first win at Stegeman Coliseum. The Rebels are in first place in the Southeastern Conference with Tennessee.
“We’re feeling pretty good right now. We’re No. 1 in conference, which has been our goal since the start of the season,” Thomas said. “Good things are happening for our program right now and we’re just battling and competing and trying to win ball games.”
Thomas had only hit 2 of 12 from the field before hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left. A 3-point attempt by Georgia’s Jasmine James missed at the buzzer.
“The play was for me to come up and shoot a three,” said Thomas, who scored 42 against LSU last Sunday. “I just got a really good look. LaKendra (Phillips) set a really good screen. I got a wide-open shot and I was able to knock it down.”
Ole Miss (14-5, 5-1) stands atop a crowded conference, where Georgia (18-2, 5-2) had hoped it would still be. The Bulldogs entered the game alone in first place by a half-game after beating the Vols on Thursday.
“It hurts to work so hard to get what we wanted and then lose it at the end of the game,” Georgia freshman Jasmine James said. “It hurts, but we’re going to have to come back tomorrow and work harder to pick up what we had a few days ago.”
Elizabeth Robertson led Ole Miss with 17 points. Kayla Melson added 16, Nikki Byrd had 13 and Shantell Black and Thomas each had 10. Byrd also had 14 rebounds.
Georgia played all of the second half without starting forward Angel Robinson who left with a sprained left foot and ankle just before halftime. Robinson’s replacement, Jasmine Hassell, scored a career-high 20 points. Ashley Houts added 13 .
Ole Miss led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but Georgia pulled ahead with a 24-6 run. A pair of free throws by Hassell gave Georgia a 64-56 lead with 2:05 left.
“I really can’t repeat what I said to them in the huddle,” Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner said. “I challenged them greatly. I was really, really upset because (Georgia) was getting two or three opportunities to score. We kept preaching, and that would be an accurate word, team defense and getting stops. We believed we could come down and hit a shot and take one possession at a time.”