Dec. 4, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
In front of 4,491 fans, the third-largest crowd for an Ole Miss women’s basketball game at the Tad Smith Coliseum, the Rebels won their fifth straight game with a 79-68 victory over Louisiana Tech.
“I hope that the 4,000 kids go home and tell their parents that they saw a team that played hard,” said head coach Matt Insell of the annual kids days. “It was great playing in front of them. We have a good basketball team, and this team plays extremely hard. Every time they go out on the court, they’re expecting to win. And I hope that people start to realize that, and we start having bigger crowds. I hope that happens because it’s going to happen eventually. They will start to see it eventually, and you will see 4,000 in here every time out. And that’s our goal and what we will push toward every year.
“Before the game, I asked them, ‘Play hard for these kids,’ because maybe they go home and tell their parents that they enjoyed watching you play, and if they will do that and their parent come and enjoy it, so maybe they start coming. Our girls enjoyed it and like playing in front of people, and they fed off of that energy early in the game.”
Four players scored in double figures, and Ole Miss shot 50 percent from the field, its third-best shooting game of the season. The Rebels scored 22 points off 15 turnovers, and they dominated points in the paint (44-28) and fast-break points (20-2) against the Lady Techsters.
“We’re getting the shot that Ole Miss wants,” Insell said. “We talk about that before every game, every practice and every time they’re around me. I tell them, ‘Let’s get the shot that Ole Miss wants; not the shot Louisiana Tech wants Ole Miss to take. Let’s get the shot we want to take.’ And we’re getting that.
“When we get paint touches, whether it’s off the bounce, or throwing the ball inside. Any type of paint touch where we touch the paint with the ball, something good happens for Ole Miss. That’s what we keep talking about a lot, no matter if they’re in a zone or man-to-man defense, whatever they’re in. Drive the ball, make people help and then kick it, so we’re getting a lot better shots.”
Junior forward Tia Faleru, who entered the game averaging a double-double (15.0 points, 10.2 rebounds), led the team with 19 points and six rebounds. She was 8-for-13 from the field and credited the tempo and aggressiveness for better shots and shooting percentage.
“When the other team scores, we are trying to get the ball out,” Faleru said. “I’m not looking back; I’m just going. When we get the ball, I’m running as fast as I can down the court and I get open looks over the top.
“We are being a lot more aggressive in the paint area. We’re swinging and posting up more and fighting for the ball, and our guards are doing a good job at getting the ball to us. And we’re doing a good job on the offensive boards.”
Senior guard Valencia McFarland was second on the team with 16 points, to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Senior guard Diara Moore followed up a career-high 25 points against Tulane with 13 against Louisiana Tech, and junior Danielle McCray was one rebound shy of her second career double-double, as she finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
“We have a team that can have three or four people in double figures scoring each night,” Insell said. “Scoring doesn’t seem to be the problem for us right now. And defensively, we are getting better. We had a great first half defensively. We’re not putting two halves together defensively, and that we’re lacking right now. When we start doing that, then you will start seeing a much better basketball team than you are seeing now.”
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