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UNLV deals Ole Miss women’s basketball first loss in Las Vegas tournament

The Ole Miss women’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker Sunday in the championship of the Lady Rebel Round-Up, 64-57, to host UNLV. The loss was the first of the season for the Rebels and moves them to 5-1 on the year, which is the best start to the Matt Insell era.

Ole Miss led for 15:50 of the contest but went cold in the third quarter, scoring just nine points and allowing the home team to get back in the game and take a 48-42 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest.  For the second straight contest, Madinah Muhammad posted a new career-high with 24 points. Muhammad is the first Rebel to record back-to-back 20-point games this season. Shandricka Sessom led the rebounding efforts with six rebounds.

Ole Miss outshot UNLV 40 percent (21 of 52) to 35 percent (18 of 51), but the host team won the battle of the boards, 42-28.

Leading at the break for the fifth time this season, Ole Miss jumped out to a 38-33 lead courtesy of the 3-pointer out of the gates from Sessom with her first triple of the night. The home team wouldn’t go quietly as they fought back and made it a two-possession game midway through. From that point, it was a back-and-forth affair. Ole Miss went through a 3:24 scoring drought in the third quarter as the home team took a 53-44 lead with 4:21 left in the contest, which proved to be the difference maker.

The first quarter started slowly as neither team could get much going, but Muhammad was again on fire for Ole Miss with six of the Rebels’ first eight points as they took an 8-6 lead at the first media timeout.

Ole Miss used the momentum on the defensive end with a trey at the end of the quarter from Muhammad and took a 16-11 lead.

The second quarter was as close as a quarter could be in the game of basketball. The teams were tied at 18 for nearly three minutes and Ole Miss went cold from the floor, recording just two buckets in the first five minutes of the quarter. Both teams got after it in the second half of the quarter as Ole Miss posted 13 points to end the quarter, including treys from Muhammad and Torri Lewis, to take a 33-31 lead at halftime.

Ole Miss shot 55 percent in the first half (12 of 22), and the first half featured seven ties and four leads changes.

Ole Miss will return back to Oxford for the 14th annual Kids Game on Thursday against Jackson State. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.