OXFORD, Miss. (WCBI/Ole Miss Athletics) – A tip-in from Kenyotta Jenkins with a second left on the clock lifted Ole Miss women’s basketball over Mississippi State 87-85 in overtime on Thursday (Jan. 23) night. Tia Faleru led the team with 29 points and 15 rebounds as Ole Miss clinched its first SEC win of the season and the Matt Insell Era.
Playing its first overtime contest of the season and the second in the last four meetings between the teams, Ole Miss (10-10, 1-5 SEC) put the ball in the hands of its upperclassmen. Trailing 85-83 after a Mississippi State (14-6, 1-5 SEC) layup, Faleru scored setting up a Kenyotta Jenkins steal.
Jenkins dished to McFarland who attacked the rim, but had her shot fall right into the hands of Jenkins for the game-winning tip-in, sealing the victory for the Rebels.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to get this “W” said Insell. “Valencia McFarland fought for 45 minutes. Tia Faleru played 44 minutes. They gave everything they had. Tia told me, “Coach, I’m not tired. If we have to go five more, we’ll go five more. We’re going to win this game.” She looked at all her teammates in the huddle, “We’re not giving this game away. Just an unbelievable game.”
Joining Faleru in double figures was McFarland with 27 points and Shequila Joseph with 15 points.
In a game that featured 15 ties and six lead changes, the second half was a chess match. Out of the break, the visitors opened with a 12-5 run to take an 11-point lead at the 12:13 mark – the largest lead for either team, but the Rebels battled back.
With Mississippi State holding a 63-52 lead with 9:22 remaining in regulation, Ole Miss used a 9-2 burst with six points from Faleru and a huge triple from Shequila Joseph to cut the lead down to one possession, 66-63.
The squads went back-and-forth down the stretch, but a triple from McFarland at the top of the key gave Ole Miss its first lead since the opening minute of play at 76-75 with 2:40 on the game clock. A free throw from State’s Savannah Carter tied the game but neither team could get anything late, forcing the extra period.
In the extra session there were five ties and two lead changes, but the Rebels capitalized on second chances by scoring three points on additional opportunities including Jenkins game-winning tip-in.
Statistically speaking the game was evenly played as the home team shot 44.8 percent (30-of-67) to 47.6 percent (30-of-63) for Mississippi State. Despite trailing in the rebounding category in the first half, Ole Miss out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 44-39 and reached double-figures steals with 11.
Mississippi State took an early seven point lead in the first half, but the Rebels utilized the three-point shooting of Shequila Joseph to get themselves going. Joseph nailed a season-high four first-half triples and led the Rebels with 12 points in the first half.
Trailing 14-21, Ole Miss went on a 7-0 run sparked by a Joseph triple to tie the game at 21-21 at the 9:09 mark. From that point, the teams battled back and forth with neither team taking more than a five point lead the remainder of the half.
With the visitors leading 37-33, Ole Miss used four points from Valencia McFarland to tie the game at 37 – the sixth tie of the half- before a bucket from Dominique Dillingham gave the Bulldogs a 41-39 lead at the break.