Ole Miss connected on 18-of-23 free-throws, including five clutch charity shots in overtime, as the streaking Rebels bested Kentucky, 67-65, Sunday in Memorial Coliseum. Junior guard Samantha Mahoney (Detroit) scored a game-high 16 points and junior center Sarah Elliott (McKee, Ky.) notched her seventh career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to lead the Wildcats.
Kentucky (13-5, 2-1 Southeastern Conference), which knotted the score at 55 to end regulation, held a 59-55 advantage in the overtime period before Ole Miss (15-4, 4-0 SEC) went on a 9-0 run that included six points from guard Carla Bartee to put the Rebels ahead 64-59 with 31 seconds remaining.
Freshman forward Lydia Watkins (Hopkinsville, Ky.) knocked down her first career three-pointer with 26 seconds left to bring UK within two, 64-62, but after being immediately fouled, Ashley Awkward knocked down both of her free-throws. Trailing 66-62, sophomore UK point guard Carly Ormerod (Louisville, Ky.) canned a three with 10 ticks remaining. Ole Miss’ Shantell Black made the front end of a pair of free throws and UK got the rebound, but Mahoney’s three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark.
“I thought it was probably one of our best played games, as a team from start to finish,” UK head coach Mickie DeMoss said. “They were just quicker to the ball then we were in overtime. We just didn’t stay tough enough on the boards down the stretch, they got some second and third chance looks in overtime. I thought our defense was tough, they are leading the conference in total points, so I thought our defense was tough. We just came up short.”
Four players notched double-figure point totals for the Rebels, including a team-high 15 from senior All-America candidate Armintie Price. She also brought down 11 rebounds and dished out six assists without committing a foul on the day in 43 minutes of action. Bartee scored six of her 10 points in the extra period.
Ole Miss, the SEC’s leader in scoring offense, overcame 31.2 percent (24-of-77) shooting in the game, but was able to capitalize on 21 turnovers by the Wildcats that resulted in 20 points. Kentucky, which dropped to 18-18 all-time in overtime contests, won the rebound battle (50-48) for the first time in league action this season and blocked a season-high 10 shots in the game.
Mahoney played a career-high 44 minutes, while Ormerod played a season-high 39. Ormerod scored 16 points as the third Wildcat in double-digits, adding six rebounds and six assists. Sophomore forward Jenn’e Jackson (Radcliff, Ky.) blocked a career-high four shots. Senior forward/center Jennifer Humphrey (Memphis, Tenn.) was plagued with foul trouble, playing just nine minutes and fouling out.
The two teams battled evenly to begin the game before the Wildcats used a 9-2 run to take a 13-7 advantage at the 12:46 mark after a three-point play by Jackson. Ole Miss then scored seven of the game’s next nine points to come as close as one, 15-14, with 9:37 remaining in the half. Back-to-back baskets by Mahoney and a free-throw by senior guard Jenny Pfeiffer (North Vernon, Ind.) extended UK’s advantage to six points (20-14) with 8:12 left. With the Wildcats leading 22-16 after a Nastassia Alcius (Lexington, Ky.) hoop, Ole Miss went on a 12-0 run to go up 28-22 with 2:03 left until intermission. The Rebels took a 32-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
After the teams traded baskets to begin the second half, Ormerod ran off five straight points for the Wildcats to put them ahead 35-34 with 18:05 left in the half. The Rebels then used a 10-0 run to go up 44-35 with 13:10 remaining in the game. Kentucky rallied with four consecutive baskets, the last by Pfeiffer at the 7:20 mark, to come within one, 44-43. Ole Miss again went up four, 53-49, after a trey by Price but Kentucky rallied with back-to-back buckets to tie the score at 53-53. A lay-up by Elliott with 24 seconds in regulation tied the score at 55 to send the teams into overtime.
As UK’s western division home-and-home opponent this season, the Wildcats will make the return trip to Oxford, Miss., on Feb.8.
Kentucky returns to action Thursday with its first of two consecutive road games. The Wildcats travel to Baton Rouge, La., to face the No. 6 LSU Tigers with tip-off slated for 8 p.m. EST in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.