Nov. 8, 2013
Behind 33 second-half points from junior Tia Faleru and senior Valencia McFarland, Ole Miss erased an 11-point halftime deficit with a 59-point second half and went on defeat Jacksonville State, 83-62, in the first game of the Matt Insell era.
Faleru and McFarland, who finished last year tied for the team lead in scoring (11.4 points per game), were held scoreless in the first half.
"I didn't play Valencia and Tia, and that was part of my stubbornness, but also part of me saying, `Hey, look, we're going to do it on my terms,'" head coach Matt Insell said. "We're going to play hard and we're doing to do what I ask you to do and perform at the level I want you to perform, or I'm going to sit you on the bench. And it hurts our team when we put you on the bench."
The duo, however, finished the game as the team's two leading scorers. Faleru recorded a double-double, the sixth of her career, with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. McFarland was second on the team with 15 points, to go along with five rebounds, five assists and four rebounds.
We turned it around defensively and got stop after stop," said Faleru, of the second half. "It started right from the jump. The first two minutes, we got a steal, and I look up at the clock and we were only down five, and kept going and kept going."
"We came out with a lot more energy and enthusiasm," McFarland added. "We played harder on both ends."
Faleru and McFarland each played just eight minutes in the first half, and Insell challenged them, as the Rebels started the second half.
"I told both of them at the half, `You have four minutes to show me that you're going to play, or the other ones are going to play,'" Insell said. "They figured it out. I don't know what I did at halftime, but I'm going to try to figure it out and do it again.
"I could tell coming out at halftime they were ready to go. When I told them they had four minutes, they both looked at each other and were like, `We got this.' The rest of the kids gravitated to that. Our team is going to gravitate to their attitude."
The win over Jacksonville State marked the first in Insell's head coaching career, as Ole Miss officially opened the Matt Insell era. The Rebels return to action Sunday, as they host Central Arkansas at 2 p.m. from Tad Smith Coliseum.
"It's special. I never thought about it during the game, especially during that first half. My whole thing is trying to get better each game. If we had lost tonight and gotten better, I would have been miserable and really upset. But if we had gotten better from that loss, I would have been happy.
"But wining is a lot more fun, and I'm going to enjoy this win tonight and start preparing for Central Arkansas later this evening, and we'll get ready tomorrow morning for practice."