OXFORD – The Ole Miss women’s basketball team built a wave of momentum at the end of its pre-conference schedule but dropped its SEC opener Thursday night, scorched by Missouri’s 3-point shooting in an 85-76 loss at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The Tigers were 15-for-24 from 3-point range and were skilled enough inside to hurt the Rebels if they overcompensated on the perimeter.
Ole Miss got some timely baskets, one of them a 3-point shot from Gracie Frizzell, to take a 42-41 lead in the early minutes of the second half.
However, big plays like that were too few to overcome the Rebels’ own 36.1 percent shooting.
Ole Miss had won eight of its previous nine games, the loss an 87-80 decision at No. 9 Baylor.
Now the Rebels are 0-1 and facing a road game at Tennessee on Jan. 9.
Missouri (12-2, 1-0 SEC) began the night leading the SEC in 3-point makes with 133, but its 62.5 percent success rate was far beyond the Tigers’ average night. Missouri was shooting 38.3 percent from the arc going into the game.
Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said the Rebels (9-6, 0-1) lacked communication on defense.
“We decided not to talk defensively. That was the big crucial thing,” he said. “We stopped talking. We stopped telling each other when to switch. We stopped closing out. We were standing around defensively. We did that for about a 5-minute stretch in the second half, and it goes from taking the lead to you’re down.”
Freshman Shequila Joseph led Ole Miss with a career-high 21 points. She added seven rebounds and four assists.
Valencia McFarland had a double-double with 14 points and 10 assists, and Diara Moore had 14 points.
Rebels’ outside shot
The Rebels shot 44 percent from 3-point range (11-for-25), an effective outing on most nights.
Ole Miss had chances late in the game. The Rebels trailed 78-74 after a Tia Faleru put-back with 1 minute, 39 seconds to play.
They forced a Missouri miss on the other end but couldn’t corral the rebound, and Maddie Stock hit a 3 from the right corner to put the Tigers up by seven with less than a minute to play.
It was the only 3-pointer of the night for Stock. Most of Missouri’s damage came from three players, one of them Bri Kulas who scored in the lane as well and finished with a game-high 26 points.