Mississippi women fall 87-80 at No. 9 Baylor

Mississippi coach Matt Insell already knew how good Odyssey Sims

and No. 9 Baylor were.

And his Rebels came up only a couple minutes short of a big

upset.

Sims had 39 points, including the last seven for the Lady Bears,

who won 87-80 on Wednesday night to stretch their national-best

home winning streak to 66 games.

”I told our players it’s going to take 40 minutes to win,”

said Insell, the first-year Ole Miss coach who was a Kentucky

assistant the last five seasons. ”We played about 38 minutes.

We’ve got to go back and figure out how to play those next

two.”

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 left,

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

in.

”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.

”She’s just a great player,” Insell said. ”I’m proud of my

kids for the poise they had defending her. She had 39, but it was a

hard 39 for her.”

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 also had 12

rebounds.

”We can take a lot from this game,” McFarland said. ”it can

prepare us for the SEC and what’s to come.”

Nina Davis had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Lady Bears.

Sune Agbuke also had 15 rebounds, and Niya Johnson scored 10

points.

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.

”It’s a huge difference. Tia Faleru is a kid that’s just really

coming into her own,” Insell said. ”She plays 21 minutes in a

hostile environment against a great team, has 22 points and 10

rebounds. She got to learn how to play with fouls. That’s the next

part of her growth.”

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.

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.

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 was within 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.”