Sims, No. 9 Baylor women beat Mississippi 87-80
Odyssey Sims is still able to lead No. 9 Baylor when she is having a tough shooting night. Her shots seem to go in when they are needed the most.
Sims had 39 points, including a wild shot that went in before scoring the Lady Bears' last seven points, in an 87-80 victory over Mississippi on Wednesday night that stretched their national-best home winning streak to 66 games.
Baylor (9-1), which trailed by 10 early in the game, got even at 72 when Sims made a three-point play with 5 1/2 minutes to go, hitting the free throw after an impressive basket. After grabbing her own rebound, Sims was leaning and falling along the edge of the lane when she flipped the ball up toward the hoop - and it went through.
''It wasn't desperately,'' Sims said, with a bit of a smile. ''The girl was a little bit bigger than me, I was trying to go around her. Just kind of how the ball went up and came down. I went along with it. I'm not going to say I knew it was going to go in.''
Sims, who entered the game as the nation's leading scorer at 29.4 points a game, made only 11 of 32 shots. Ole Miss (8-5) was within a point with 2:17 left before Sims scored the last seven points for Baylor, including a floater and four free throws in the final 36 seconds.
''What can you say about her? I'll go on record saying she's the best player in the country, and I've played against a lot of them over the last four, five years,'' said Ole Miss coach Matt Insell, in his first year with the Rebels after five seasons as a Kentucky assistant. ''I thought she was the best player in the country last year, and she's the best player in the country this year, too.''
Nina Davis had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Lady Bears. Sune Agbuke also had 15 rebounds, and Niya Johnson scored 10 points.
Ole Miss, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped, jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half. The Rebels had five players score in double figures.
Tia Faleru had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Rebels before fouling out. Valencia McFarland had 17 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Danielle McCray and Diara Moore both had 13 points and Gracie Frizzell had 12 on four 3-pointers.
McCray gave Ole Miss its last lead at 74-72 after scoring on a pass from McFarland with just over 4 minutes left.
Davis scored while being fouled with 3:44 left, that being the fifth foul on Faleru. After the media timeout, Davis made the tiebreaking free throw.
Makenzie Robertson then made a 3-pointer in front of her teammates on the bench to make it 78-74.
''I told our players it's going to take 40 minutes to win,'' Insell said. ''We played about 38 minutes. We've got to go back and figure out how to play those next two.''
Moore then made a layup for Ole Miss, and after the Lady Bears missed on three shots before Agbuke made two free throws, Moore had a three-point play to get to 80-79, but the Rebels never went ahead again.
The Lady Bears were playing an SEC team for the second in three games. Before a long break for final exams, they lost 133-130 in a four-overtime game against Kentucky at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium where the NCAA men's Final Four will be played in April.
Ole Miss used a 17-4 run midway through the first half and was up 29-19 when McFarland made a free throw with 8:38 left.
Baylor closed the half with an 11-4 run, including consecutive layups by Johnson, and closed to 41-40 at the half after Agbuke's three-point play in the final minute.
''There's going to be a lot of games like that this year,'' Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ''I wouldn't say it was a pretty game, but two teams that wanted to win. When we got down 10, we hung in there, and had a little resiliency and made a few plays.''