March 1, 2018 10:48:58 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Madinah Muhammad scored a team-high 14 points Wednesday to help the No. 14 seed Ole Miss women's basketball team outlast No. 11 seed Florida 48-43 in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena.
The victory marked the second time a No. 14 seed has advanced in the tournament since the tournament expanded to 14 teams. Ole Miss has accomplished the feat both times.
Ole Miss (12-18) advances to face No. 6 seed Missouri (23-6) in the final game of the day at approximately 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network).
"It was a great team effort," Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said. "It was good to get that one back. We gave one away, we felt like, down at Florida (on Jan. 21) and that was a kind of a spiral of where our season has been. We found a way to get a win here and tough one out. I've been challenging our players to get better defensively each and every day."
It was Insell's lowest-scoring win since Jan. 25, 1984 (46-45, vs. Auburn). The win is the first in the tournament for Ole Miss since that 2013-14 team took down Arkansas as the No. 14 seed.
Ole Miss own despite shooting 15-for-54 from the field (27.8 percent). Shelby Gibson (10 points) was the only other Ole Miss players in double figures.
The Rebels used a 15-3 run to close the second quarter and take a 26-19 halftime lead.
Ole Miss extended that margin to a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but Florida cut the deficit to 36-27 entering the final quarter.
The Gators cut the deficit to six points with 7 minutes, 15 seconds remaining. They cut it to four a handful of times down the stretch, but Ole Miss went 15-for-22 from the free-throw line to seal the deal.
"We came in here knowing that it was going to be a fight," Gibson said. "That really weighed on our hearts. We didn't want it to be over. Defense led, but heart and hard work also really helped us win this battle against Florida."
Haley Lorenzen led Florida (11-19) with 14 points. Funda Nakkasoglu and Paulina Hersler had 11. The Gators shot 14-for-50 from the field (28 percent).
"Hats off to Ole Miss because playing a team three times you get to know each other well," Florida coach Cameron Newbauer said. "I thought they did a terrific job of really taking us out of what we wanted to do from an offensive end. "
The win snapped a 13-game losing streak. It sets Ole Miss up to become the first Rebel squad to win multiple games in a single SEC tournament since 1993.
"I lot of people have counted this team out," Insell said. "A lot of people thought this team was just going to quit, and I think it very much shows the determination each and every night that they continue to play at a high level and push themselves to get better, and the result today on the scoreboard showed up for them, and I'm just real proud of that."
n Arkansas 88,
Vanderbilt 73: In the first game of the day, Kiara
Williams had a game-high 25 points to lead five players in double figures in the Razorbacks' victory.
Williams was 11-for-13 from the field and had 10 rebounds to lead Arkansas (13-17), which will play No. 5 seed Texas A&M at approximately 1:30 p.m. today (SEC Network).
Malica Monk (20 points), Jailyn Mason (14), Devin Cosper (13), and Ra Northcross-Baker (12) also scored in double figures.
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors called the win the "best game" his team has played this season.
"They continue to be resilient," Neighbors said. "This group keeps showing up. I said it a thousand times this year, this group is like no other team I've every seen. They just keep comin' at you and we shot is well. ... They stuck with it and we always talked about peaking at the right time, and I'm so happy we played our best late in the year."
Kayla Overbeck and Christa Reed had 16 points to lead Vanderbilt (7-24). Rachel Bell added 12 for the Commodores, who had 20 turnovers. Arkansas had a 23-9 edge in points off turnovers.
"I want to congratulate Arkansas," Vanderbilt coach Stephanie White said. "They came in and battled from start to finish and outplayed us in nearly every aspect of the ballgame. I'm certainly disappointed. We had a great opportunity in front of us and we didn't take advantage of that opportunity."
n Alabama will take on Kentucky in first game today: the No. 8 seed Crimson Tide (17-12) and the No. 9 seed Wildcats (14-16) will kick off the second day of action at noon today (SEC Network).
The winner will play No. 1 seed Mississippi State (30-0) at noon Friday in the quarterfinals.
Alabama is coming off a 79-78 loss in overtime to then-No. 24 LSU on Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Kentucky is coming off an 85-63 loss to No. 2 MSU on Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky.
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