February 14, 2011 8:56:00 AM
OXFORD -- After leading the majority of the game, the University of Mississippi women''s basketball team saw the No. 24 University of Georgia take the lead with 9 minutes, 55 seconds remaining en route to a 61-56 victory in a Southeastern Conference game at Tad Smith Coliseum.
"In the second half, Georgia came out and upped their intensity," Ole Miss coach Renee Ladner said. "Nikki (Byrd) made players guard her tonight. We need her to be a force every night."
Ole Miss (10-14, 3-9 SEC) led from the eight-minute mark in the first half until Georgia (19-6, 9-3) went ahead with 9:55 left in the game. The Rebels cut the deficit lead to 47-45 with 7:47 to play but couldn''t re-take the lead.
The game featured four ties and three lead changes in the first 14 minutes. Maggie McFerrin''s third 3-pointer gave Ole Miss a 20-17 lead with 5:47 left in the first half.
A 3-pointer from Valencia McFarland gave the Rebels a 27-17 lead with 3:32 remaining in the first half. Georgia used a 6-0 run to pull to within 27-23, with 1:10 left in the half. McFarland hit a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left as Ole Miss led 31-25 at halftime.
Ole Miss used a 7-0 run capped by a basket from Byrd to take a 39-29 lead with 17:43 to play. Georgia tied the game at 38-38 with 15:17 left, but the Rebels pushed the margin to 42-38 on a jumper from Pa''Sonna Hope with 12:01 remaining.
Georgia took its first lead since the 8:01 mark of the first half when it went up 43-42 with 9:55 to play.
McFarland led Ole Miss with 15 points and seven assists, while McFerrin had a career-high 12 points (four 3-pointers. Nikki Byrd had 10 points, and Hope grabbed a team-high seven assists.
Jasmine James had a game-high 19 points (seven rebounds, four assists, two steals) for Georgia. Jasmine Hassell had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Porsha Phillips had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Ole Miss will play host to Arkansas at 7 p.m. Thursday in the annual "Tickled Pink" game. Ole Miss is teaming up with Baptist Hospital North Mississippi and all fans who wear pink to the game get in free.
In addition, Baptist Memorial will give door prizes to fans wearing pink and all proceeds from fan donations at the game will stay in Lafayette County.