ATHENS, Ga. (Ole Miss Athletics) – For the second consecutive game the Ole Miss women’s basketball team ran up against an outstanding offense as Georgia shot 54 percent from the floor en route to a 73-57 win over the Rebels at Stegeman Coliseum on Sunday.
The Rebels (7-4, 1-4 SEC) shot 42 percent from the floor with 27 points coming from the bench, including Valerie Nesbitt’s 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Shakira Austin led Ole Miss with 13 points, her fifth double-digit scoring game this season and 45th of her career. In Donnetta Johnson’s return to Athens, she had 10 points on 4-8 shooting. Offensively, though, the Rebels committed 20 turnovers with Georgia (12-1, 4-1 SEC) cashing in 19 points off of them.
“First of all, I don’t want to take anything away from (Georgia head coach) Joni’s (Taylor) program,” said Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “They’re a well-oiled machine. They’re mature, and you can see it when they play. I admire what she’s done, and hopefully I can follow suit.”
After a slow offensive start for Ole Miss, the Lady Bulldogs took advantage with an early 9-0 run. Going into the first timeout, Georgia made four of five from the field and had a 9-2 lead with 4:55 to go in the first quarter. The Lady Bulldogs forced five turnovers in the process with the only Rebel points coming from a Johnson jumper. Coming out of the timeout, Nesbitt broke up a 10-0 run with back-to-back layups. That led to a 6-0 Rebel run, but after a three-point jumper from Gabby Connally (13 points), Georgia had a 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Bulldogs shot 67 percent from the floor while Ole Miss shot 24 percent.
Georgia began the second quarter like they did the first, creating quick separation and forcing turnovers en route to another 12-point lead with 6:16 left in the first half. With 2:18 left in the first half, an all-newcomer lineup was on the floor for the Rebels after early foul trouble for Johnson and Nesbit. The Lady Bulldogs had a 36-23 lead going into the locker room.
The Rebels shot 34 percent (11-of-32) from the floor while Austin led the way with eight points and three rebounds. Nesbit had six points, but found herself going into the second half with three fouls. Defensively, Ole Miss forced 11 turnovers while having an 18-14 edge on the glass, with 10 offensive rebounds already. Georgia shot 61 percent (14-23) in the first half on mostly high-percentage shots and blocked seven Rebel shot attempts. Jenna Staiti (16 points, five rebounds, four blocks) led the way with 10 points while going 5-of-7 from the floor.
In the second half, Georgia opened up a 20-point lead after a pair of free throws. The Rebels faced a 21-point deficit with 3:27 left in the third quarter. Georgia outscored Ole Miss 16-5 during that opening stretch. The Rebels knocked down shots, but still trailed 54-35 going into the game’s final quarter. Ole Miss continued to compete down the stretch, but it was too late to get a road SEC win.
“They beat us,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We’ve got to figure some things out with how to get my team to manage through this type of season. I’m not panicking at all. We have a tremendous amount of talent. We didn’t even play well at all and was able to come back and try to make it at least a decent game at some point. We’re just trying to find ourselves.”
The Rebels return to The Pavilion on Sunday (Jan. 24) to face off against the Florida Gators. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. CT and can be seen on SEC Network+.