Credit: Ole Miss Athletics
In the inaugural ACC/SEC Women’s Basketball Challenge and a rematch from last year’s Sweet 16, No. 19 Ole Miss was unable to overcome foul trouble despite holding No. 22 Louisville to a season-low in points, 64-58 from the SJB Pavilion on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
Despite a season-best night from Snudda Collins with 22 points, Ole Miss’ (6-2) woes at the free-throw line allowed Louisville (7-1) to capitalize off a 22-point third quarter and secure the win. In a defensive matchup, Ole Miss slowed down one of the nation’s best offenses by holding the Cardinals under their average of 81.7 points per game. As a team, Ole Miss wrapped its night with five blocks for the fifth game this season with five or more.
Joining Collins in double-digit scoring was Marquesha Davis with 12 points, scoring nine of those in the fourth quarter to assist in an attempted Rebel comeback.
Freshman point guard Zakiya Stephenson made her presence known, leading the Rebels with a career-best six assists. Stephenson is the first Rebel freshman since the 2019-20 season to have multiple games with five or more assists.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 12-6 lead within the opening minutes, to force the Rebel offense to start rolling to close the gap. Collins provided a spark to Ole Miss, with her sixth point of the first quarter to give the Rebels their first lead to date at 14-13 in the final minute. Louisville added a bucket from the free-throw line to end the opening quarter even at 14, despite Ole Miss limiting the Cardinals to zero field goals the final four minutes.
A defensive standoff ensued, as both teams struggled to get moving offensively. With a steal from Stephenson, the Rebels snagged their first basket of the second quarter. Louisville’s offense heated up going on a 6-0 run, however the Rebels flipped the script collecting nine straight points. The Rebels ended the first half making five of their last six field goals which earned them the 30-28 lead heading into the half.
Defense continued to dictate the pace of the night, as Ole Miss allowed Louisville to grab its lead back off of Rebel miscues and the free-throw line almost midway into the third quarter. Stephenson continued to impress with a smooth jumper to bring the game within four as the quarter dwindled. Later, down seven, Collins nailed a three pointer from the corner giving Ole Miss a momentum boost heading into the final quarter of play despite trailing 50-44.
Ole Miss’ veteran core proved to show their strength down the stretch in Davis and Madison Scott. Louisville entered foul trouble early, and the Rebels defense persisted. In the final two minutes of the game, Ole Miss’ full court press managed to put pressure on the ball causing a crucial Louisville turnover, leading to a Davis layup and put the game within four points. Despite Ole Miss’ resiliency, it was not enough to overcome Louisville, falling 64-58.
The Rebels face its first road test of the season with a trip to Southern Miss on Saturday (Dec. 2). Tip against the Golden Eagles is slated for 2 p.m. CT on ESPN+.