Rebels Defeat Vanderbilt in Back-And-Forth Battle

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OXFORD, Miss. -- In a back-and-forth battle that featured nine lead changes and eight ties, Ole Miss women’s basketball emerged victorious 65-60 over Vanderbilt at The Pavilion Thursday night.

“We needed it in the worst way,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “Right now, we are running our own individual race. I just kept telling the ladies that we need to get a win. Vanderbilt’s record doesn’t really show how they have been playing. They were up until the last three minutes vs. South Carolina, up by 20 on Auburn, and lost to Georgia at the last second. So, this is a quality win for us.”

Senior leadership proved to be instrumental for the Rebels. Crystal Allen broke out of her slump and led the team with 23 points, including the final go-ahead three-pointer with 1:01 remaining. From there, the Rebel defense locked down and held Vanderbilt scoreless for the remainder of the game.

“We thought we had the old Crystal back after this week of practice,” McPhee-McCuin said. “She just had her regular bounce. Everybody played and everybody contributed and that is how we want to be.”

La’Karis Salter (17 points, six rebounds) was also an integral part of the win. She scored 15 points in the second half, which included shooting 3-of-3 from the three-point line and a pair of game-clinching free throws with 0:11 remaining to put the Rebels up by two possessions.

“La’Karis loves the big stage,” McPhee-McCuin said. “She made some big shots tonight at the right time.”

Shandricka Sessom (18 points, five rebounds) helped carry the Rebel offense in the first half. The senior scored 14 points in the first half and was 4-of-6 from beyond-the-arc. This helped the Rebels jump out to a 22-13 first quarter lead and a 32-28 lead at the half. In SEC play, Sessom is shooting 38.1 percent from beyond the arc and has made 24 treys.

Freshman Mimi Reid tallied a team-high nine assists, which is the most that she has recorded in conference play.

Ole Miss (9-16, 3-8 SEC) now looks ahead to a Monday night battle with Georgia (14-10, 5-6 SEC) that will be aired on SEC Network at 6 p.m. CT.