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Rebels rout UAPB for another win

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team has never lost to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and things did not change Sunday afternoon.

The Rebels used stingy defense and success from beyond the arc to distance themselves early for an easy 80-45 win over the Golden Lions at C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum. The win extended Ole Miss’ winning streak to four games and improved its series record against Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 8-0.

“It’s a really good win for us,” Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. “I’m really happy with our basketball team and the growth that we’ve had over the past two-three weeks where we’re starting to come together and get better each and every game. A lot of players got to play a lot of minutes today, which was good.”

The Rebels’ defense created turnovers often in the first half, causing the Golden Lions to give the ball up 12 times, which Ole Miss (5-3) scored 18 points off of. Foul trouble was not an issue Sunday either as Ole Miss was whistled for only five fouls in the first half.

The Rebels finished with 11 fouls in the game, their lowest total all season, which helped their defensive presence against the Golden Lions.

“That may be my lowest foul total as a coach,” Insell said. “Using your athleticism defensively and pressuring the ball without touching is something we work on every single day. We’re starting to get that concept. You don’t have to touch, you don’t have to grab, you don’t have to do all that. You don’t have to block shots. Build a wall and make someone score over you.”

Offensively, Shandricka Sessom continued to be a strong factor, shooting 5 of 12 from the field with three shots coming from 3-point range. Ole Miss shot 5 of 15 from long distance, fueling a 44-25 halftime lead.

Sessom finished with a team-high 28 points while freshman guard Madinah Muhammad ended with 10 points. Muhammad was the only other Rebel to finish with double-digit points, though 11 different players found their way in the scorebook.

 “I just came out there to play,” Sessom said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything to hold me back. I just wanted to play.”

‘Important minutes’

Ole Miss ended the game with four freshmen on the court. With the comfortable lead, Insell took most of the final quarter to get his younger players more experience. Four freshman played, including Muhammad, who started for the Rebels.

Jonell Williams led the bench with seven points in 12 minutes. She also finished with six rebounds.

“That was very important minutes for them,” Insell said of his freshmen. “That’s important minutes for their growth in our basketball team to get ready for January. That’s why they played so much. I kept them in there even though they had some struggles at times defensively, but it was important for them to get those minutes and they finally clicked in and did real well as a team.”