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Comeback falls short as Ole Miss women’s basketball falls to IUPUI

After taking care of business a week ago with an 18-point win against Norfolk State, Ole Miss couldn’t seal the deal against IUPUI.

Trailing by as much as 11 in the second half, the Rebels’ (1-1) comeback came up short as they fell to the Panthers (2-0) 66-58 in a disappointing home loss.

Ole Miss had an opportunity to tie the game down 55-52 with about three minutes to go, but a quick 6-2 run by an experienced IUPUI team ended any momentum the Rebels had.

“I knew this was going to be a challenging game for us,” Ole Miss head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. “You can tell they’ve been playing for a long time.”

Guard Crystal Allen was Ole Miss’ best source of offense, as she finished with a team-high 21 points, but IUPUI’s Holly Hoopingarner, Macee Williams and Sydney Hall all finished in double figures.

McPhee-McCuin noted the Panthers matched up well against the Rebels, specifically Williams who lived up to her billing as the preseason Horizon League Player of the Year.

“She carried them,” McPhee-McCuin said. “There’s a reason she got preseason player of the year.”

Williams scored 23 points and 12 rebounds, as she dominated the low post. The Panthers also had a penchant for crisp kick-out passes, but struggled to connect from beyond the arc.

Had IUPUI shot better from three-point range – only 3 of 16 – they might have run Ole Miss right off their own court.

The Panthers looked like the more complete team against the Rebels, and it showed in the stat sheet. IUPUI vastly out-rebounded Ole Miss 52-34, while the Rebels also committed 24 personal fouls to the Panthers’ 12.

“Rebounding is will. Period,” McPhee-McCuin said. “We’re learning how to win through adversity.”

Ole Miss and IUPUI were nearly equal through the first two quarters, as the Panthers took a 30-27 lead into halftime shooting only 29 percent from the field. The Rebels shot 38 percent, but only got to the free throw line twice in the first half.

IUPUI pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Ole Miss 20-14. McPhee-McCuin said the Rebels have made a habit of losing the third quarter, as Ole Miss also got outscored against Norfolk State in the third period last week 15-13.

McPhee-McCuin pointed to a game like this as one where she can learn more about her team, saying she liked how her team fought back in the fourth quarter to make the game close.

However, Ole Miss will get a chance to play a similar team Nov. 14, as they’ll play a Temple team that has four upperclassmen.

“This was a good opportunity to see where we are,” McPhee-McCuin. “It’s going to be a work in progress.”