Feb. 6, 2014
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. — Gracie Frizzell had hit her third 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 54-48 with 12:18 left.
No. 8 Tennessee answered the bell, as the team’s leading scorer, Meighan Simmons, hit three 3-pointers on three straight possessions to stretch the lead to 63-48 and the Lady Volunteers went on to win 77-65 on Thursday at the Tad Smith Coliseum.
“It was huge point in the game and it turned the game,” head coach Matt Insell said. “They make three straight 3’s. We lose Simmons three straight possessions. You never want to lose Simmons.
“She’s a player very similar to like Marshall Henderson who is here. She can miss five or six shots in a row, but she has the ability to make five or six in a row after that, so you never want to lose her.”
Simmons, who entered the game averaging 14.7 points per game, finished with a team-high 20 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. None were bigger than those three straight 3-pointers.
“She hit two big threes in the corner,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said. “They were contested. Both kids were all over her in the corner. She made two great shots, and then she got one on the wing.
“She hit three 3’s in a row, and that separated us. The game was close, and they had a lot of energy, and we weren’t highly motivated. Those three 3’s separated us.”
In the second half, Ole Miss outscored Tennessee 40-37, having shot 51.9 percent (14-of-27) from the field compared to 39.4 percent (13-of-33) for Tennessee, but the Rebels were unable to get as close as they were after Frizzell’s 3-pointer before the nine straight points by Simmons.
In their first meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee won 94-70, as the Lady Vols won the rebounding battle, 56-40, and Insell noted the team’s progress from that first meeting to Thursday’s meeting when the Rebels were outrebounded, 43-34.
“It was a better effort by our team tonight,” Insell said. “I told them after the game that we have to find a way to have that effort every night offensively, defensively and on the boards. We got outrebounded there at the end, but it was not near as bad as it was a month ago when we played. It wasn’t near as bad as it looked at the end if you take out about a four-minute segment where we didn’t do a good job of boxing out.”
“He’s been in games, and he’s competitive,” said Warlick of Insell and Ole Miss. “His kids play hard. I will say this, it’s difficult to get a team that’s 1-9 (in league play) and play hard. Those kids play hard. He’s done a great job. He will get it done here. He has a game plan, and they stick to it. For us, we vary. We didn’t play as hard as they did tonight.”
Individually for Ole Miss, Tia Faleru and Valencia McFarland both recorded double-doubles, and Frizzell and Danielle McCray joined them in double figures. Faleru led the way with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds, her SEC-leading 12th double-double of the season.
“Every day, she’s getting better,” said Insell of Faleru. “She’s a lot better basketball player today than she was on Sunday, and she will be a better basketball playing this coming Sunday than she is today. She’s a kid who works really hard.
“She has 23 points and 11 rebounds against Tennessee’s big kids and she’s outsized by everyone they put in there. That says she had a pretty good day, and hopefully people will start to take notice that Tia Faleru is a good basketball player.”
After a season-low six points against Florida, McFarland rebounded with 10 points and 10 assists. Frizzell finished with 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range, her second-highest scoring total of the season, and while McCray added 10 points.
“With Diara Moore not playing tonight, that took another guard out of the equation for us, and Gracie stepped up big time and played 37 minutes and made four threes,” Insell said. “Tennessee played a lot of zone against us, like everyone else plays us zone, and Georgia will play a zone on Sunday, so it’s important that Gracie shoots the ball well. Gracie is a weapon.”
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller