Big Second Half Sends Rebels to Season-Opening Victory

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Tia Faleru scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Rebels against Jacksonville State.
Tia Faleru scored a team-high 18 points to lead the Rebels against Jacksonville State.

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OXFORD, Miss.- Trailing at halftime, the Ole Miss women's basketball team came out of the locker room on a tear and with a 59-point second half, cruised to an 83-62 win over the visiting Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Friday (Nov. 8) night at the Tad Smith Coliseum.

The Rebels had three players in double figures, led by a team-high 18 points from Tia Faleru. Valencia McFarland and Diara Moore had 15 and 11 points, respectively, while Kenyotta Jenkins led the way on the glass with a career-high 12 rebounds. Faleru also posted double-figure rebounds with 10 boards for her sixth career double-double.

"It's a tale of two halves," said head coach Matt Insell. "We came out in the second half, and it was all about our effort.  I'm very happy to get this first win under our belts.  The kids were nervous. We aren't going to the postseason in November, but every game is important.  These kids played hard in the second half."

Trailing 35-24 at the halftime break, Ole Miss came out on fire and opened the half on a 16-2 run to tie the game 41 at the 14:49 mark of the half.  A three-point play from Danielle McCray 1:39 later would put the Rebels up 46-45, a lead they wouldn't relinquish the remainder of the contest.

The game was certainly a tale of two halves for Ole Miss.  The Rebels struggled from the floor in the first half, shooting just 19.5 percent on 8-of-41 shooting from the floor and going 0-of-11 from the three-point line. The Gamecocks, led by Candace Morton who posted a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds, held a 13-point lead over the Rebels in the first stanza and closed the half on a 6-1 run to take a 35-24 lead into the break.

Freshman Bretta Hart provided a spark for the Rebels off the bench in the final minutes of the first half. The rookie out of Poplarville, Miss., provided a big block and went 4-of-4 down the line to rally her squad late.

The second half was a much different story for the Rebels, who shot 61.5 percent on 24-of-39 shooting and drained three triples. McFarland, who was scoreless in the first half, opened the scoring for Ole Miss just 48 seconds into the second half.

Following a McFarland layup, Gracie Frizzell got involved with the jumper and from that point the basket was as big as the ocean for Ole Miss who connected on six of their next seven shots.  The shots even began to fall long range for the squad, as rookie Tianah Alvarado connected with on a three-pointer, the first of her career and the first for the Rebels this season, at the 14:49 mark.

An old-fashioned three-point play from Moore at the 11:43 mark would give the Rebels a double-digit lead as they cruised to the first win of the Matt Insell era.

Ole Miss is back in action at Tad Smith Coliseum on Sunday (Nov.10) when they take on Central Arkansas in non-conference action. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. and it is International Students Day. Also if you bring your ticket stub from the Arkansas football game you get in FREE!

Season tickets are on sale for the 2013-14 season and can be purchased for just $50. For additional ticket information, go to or call the Ole Miss Ticket Office at 1-888-REB-TKTS (732-8587).

Rebel Sidelines
Today's game is the first game of the Matt Insell era of Ole Miss women's basketball. Insell was named the eighth head coach of March 28, 2013. Insell at 31 is the second youngest women's basketball coach in Division 1 and the youngest head coach in the SEC ... Shequila Joseph started her first collegiate game tonight ... Claudia Ortiz, Bretta Hart and Tianah Alvarado also each made their collegiate debuts ... Ole moves to 37-3 in home openers ... The win snaps a five-game losing streak for the Rebels dating back to last season ... Ole Miss has now won its sixth consecutive season-opening game and is nine consecutive home-opening game ... Tia Faleru posted her sixth career double-double ... The Rebels are now 29-5 against teams from the Ohio Valley Conference.

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