BEYOND THE GAME: Faleru, Defense Sparks Big Second Half

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OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Nov. 22, 2013

Five Rebels scored in double figures, as Ole Miss snapped a four-game losing streak with a 96-69 win over Southeastern Louisiana Friday night.

Senior guard Valencia McFarland scored a team-high 20 points, while junior forward Tia Faleru recorded her fourth double-double of the season, the ninth of her career, with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

“Our record is not where we want it, and we know that, but we’re getting better,” head coach Matt Insell said. “We got better in Hawaii. We lost three games but we got better. I like to get better when we win, but we did not win the games over there. We’re a lot better basketball team today than we were on Sunday against Washington State, and we’re a lot better basketball team today than we were on Saturday against Hawaii.”

“It boosts our confidence so much,” Faleru said of the win. “The locker room is full of joy right now. We’re taking this win in, and tomorrow, we’ll put this one away and we got to come back Sunday (vs. Tennessee State) and play two halves.

Ole Miss took a 33-25 lead into halftime and scored 12 unanswered points to open the second half, as the Rebels outscored the Lions 63-44 in the frame. Faleru nearly had a double-double in the second half with 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds.

“We had more intensity,” Faleru said of the second half. “We came out of the locker room and you saw the look on everybody’s faces. We had to find a way to win.”

“The whole second half was because of Tia Faleru,” Insell said. “She came out and got deflections. She was flying around and getting rebounds. I have said it since day one, that kid is an all-league player, and she’s getting better each day. She’s going to continue to get better. She’s doing really well right now, but she’s going to be even better. If she keeps working and getting better every game, you’re going to look up a year from now and see one of the next pros to come out of our program.”

Another player in double figures for the Rebels was junior forward Danielle McCray who made her first start of the season and responded with a season-high 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, to go along with four rebounds. Her place in the starting lineup also allows junior guard Amber Singletary and senior guard Gracie Frizzell to come off the bench.

“Danielle has been practicing better,” Insell said. “She had a better game against Washington State. She got comfortable in our system. This will be something we can do with her.

“She came to me and said, ‘Coach, I can play the 3. I will do whatever I can to help the team, and I know I can play that spot.’ She looked pretty good at the 3 tonight. And if she keeps playing like that, we’re going to be a lot better team.”

Insell also credited the defense for the big second half. Ole Miss set season high with 21 forced turnovers and 12 steals and held Southeastern Louisiana to 33.3 percent (21-for-63) shooting for the game.

“The 63 points, a lot of that stemmed from defense,” Insell said. “The first eight minutes in the second half, we held them to eight points. We had a little lull there for about eight minutes but that happens. That’s where we’re growing as a team.”

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