Lady Sooners Fall To Mississippi

Sunday, March 25th 2007, 4:20 pm
By: News On 6

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- Mississippi is going to the regional final, and Courtney Paris is headed home.

Armintie Price scored 31 points, Ashley Awkward added 25 for Ole Miss, which fastbreaked and trapped its way to a 90-82 win over Oklahoma on Sunday in the Dayton Regional. Next up for the Rebels (24-10) is Tennessee on Tuesday, with a spot in the Final Four awaiting the winner.

The Lady Vols, who beat Marist 65-46, topped Ole Miss 81-69 at home on Feb. 15 in their only meeting this season.

Mississippi's frantic and frenetic defense completely set the tone. The Rebels came out running and never stopped, denying passes, harassing shooters and trapping surprised Sooners whether they were in the corner or the middle of the floor.

Averaging 18 turnovers a game, Oklahoma had 15 by halftime and finished with 26. The Rebels piled up 16 steals.

Paris led Oklahoma (28-5) with 31 points and 20 rebounds. But no other Sooner was in double figures in either category.

Price also had 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals -- making her only the second player in NCAA history to have 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists and 400 steals. She joined Cheryl Miller.

Alliesha Easley added 12 points for the Rebels, who will be making their fifth trip to a regional championship game.

Ole Miss hit just 38% of its shots from the field – and that includes numerous layups that followed steals or capped fastbreaks.

Midway through the 2nd half, with Oklahoma's turnover total mounting past 20, Awkward and then Price took turns stealing the ball and outracing everybody to hit a layup at the other end.

Against Ole Miss' overwhelming quickness, however, the Sooners found a response by playing their two biggest players together -- Paris and her twin sister Ashley.

They led an 18-7 charge to pull the Sooners to 65-62 on Brown's 3 that bounded around the rim and fell with 7:58 left. That was the closest they had been since they trailed 10-8 when the game was just 6 minutes old.

Oklahoma cut the lead to 2 points on two occasions before the Rebels spurted away again. Ahead 68-66, the Rebels responded with Easley hitting 2 free throws. After Courtney Paris lost an inbounds pass out of bounds, Price slashed through the lane and hit a pullup jumper. A missed Sooner 3 was followed by 2 foul shots by Awkward and all of a sudden the Rebels were back in control, 75-66.

Hustle plays kept the Rebels on top. During one span late in the game, forward Jada Mincy twice rebounded missed second free throws. During the one sequence down the court, the Rebels got 6 free throws, 3 points and took precious time off the clock.

Ole Miss came out scrambling on defense and the result was an early lead.

The Rebels had leads of 5-0, 16-8 and 32-21 before Oklahoma finally started having some success with the Paris twins down on the blocks.

With Ashley picking up 4 assists -- all on feeds to her sister -- the Sooners cut into the advantage.

Price came out hot, hitting 7 of her 11 shots from the field, including her only 3-pointer, and was 4-5 at the line for 19 1st-half points as Ole Miss went up 41-36 at the break.