Sports

‘Coach Yo’, Rebels return to winning ways

After a lackluster offensive performance against the nationally number seven ranked University of Tennessee Volunteers just over a week ago, Bahamian Yolett ‘Coach Yo’ McPhee-McCuin and the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) Rebels women’s basketball team are on a two-game winning streak, taking down the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the Mississippi State University Bulldogs.

The Rebels defeated the Bulldogs 86-71 at the Sandy and John Black (SJB) Pavilion in Oxford, Mississippi, this past Sunday. It was the first time the Rebels defeated their state rival in eight years.

Against the Crimson Tide on Thursday night, the Rebels won convincingly 86-56 at the SJB Pavilion for what was their 14th victory of the season. With the victory on Sunday, they now sport a 15-2 win/loss record on the season and a 3-1 record in Southeastern Conference (SEC) play. Their 3-1 record in conference play is their best start in SEC play in seven seasons.

At the post game press conference, McPhee-McCuin was all smiles.

“A long time coming…,” McPhee-McCuin said. “If you ever need motivation on having a dream, putting in the work, keeping your head down and being an over-believer, you can just come and look at Ole Miss women’s basketball. We have been working and telling people that this day would come. A lot of people believed and some didn’t. We wanted to make a statement today (Sunday) and I thought that we did for the majority of the game.”

The Rebels had a balanced scoring attack as there were five players who scored in double-figures. Leading the way for them was Shakira Austin who finished the afternoon with her sixth double-double of the season – 21 points and 10 rebounds. The performance was her fifth 20-point game of the season. She connected on a career-high two made three-point shots. Also getting a double-double was Donetta Johnson as she powered in 12 points and had 10 rebounds.

The Rebels opened the game with a 12-0 scoring run that ended with 5:17 left in the first quarter. They went on to take a 23-13 lead heading into the second quarter. They played some strong defense and got a whopping eight offensive boards that created second chance shots for them in the early going. They attempted 22 shots in the first quarter compared to just 12 for their opponent.

Austin made a layup with 4:30 left in the second quarter to give the Rebels their largest lead of the game at that point, 22 points. They led 40-18. They were in the driver’s seat the rest of the half as they went into the intermission up 48-26. The Rebels did a great job at protecting the ball in the second quarter as they had just two turnovers in that period. They were able to force eight Bulldogs turnovers in that quarter. The Rebels went 12-for-20 from the field in that quarter.

After three quarters, McPhee-McCuin’s squad held a comfortable 72-40 lead. The 32-point lead was their largest of the game and prompted the Bahamian to give her key players some rest. The Bulldogs went on to outscore the Rebels 31-14 in the fourth but it was too little too late for them. The Rebels’ lead was too insurmountable to overcome. The Rebels held on for a comfortable 86-71 victory.

“Obviously we had a slippage at the end but it was not worth keeping my players in and allowing them to get injured,” McPhee-McCuin said about the comeback in the fourth quarter.

The Rebels never trailed in the game, shooting 52.1 percent from the floor.

McPhee-McCuin and her team will head on a two-game road trip that begins with a matchup against the Texas A&M Aggies (11-6, 1-4 SEC) on Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern Time. They will play at the Reed Arena in Bryan-College Station, Texas.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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