STANFORD, Calif. — Snudda Collins scored 15 points and eighth-seeded Mississippi once again leaned on its stingy defense to get past the first round of the NCAA Tournament this time after last year's big disappointment, beating No. 9 seed Gonzaga 71-48 on Friday night.
Now, bring on top-seeded Stanford on its home court.
Ole Miss will face the Cardinal (29-5) on Sunday for a spot at the Sweet Sixteen in Seattle next weekend. Stanford topped No. 16 seed Sacred Heart 92-49 in Friday's first game at Maples Pavilion.
Already tested twice by No. 1 South Carolina, coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s Rebels showed off their signature defense that has held opponents to just 56.8 points per game by shutting down one of the nation's top 3-point-shooting teams. The Zags (28-5) scored a season-low points — and their only loss with fewer points was a 64-60 defeat to Portland in the West Coast Conference Tournament title game March 7.
This Ole Miss group is determined to take another step toward erasing the memory of last season's 75-61 first-round loss to 10th-seeded South Dakota playing as a No. 7 seed.
Madison Scott had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Angel Baker added 11 points and five boards for Ole Miss, which grabbed 24 offensive rebounds.
The Rebels earned back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time under McPhee-McCuin and it hadn’t been done since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons. Making consecutive NCAA appearances for the first time since 2004-05, the Rebels held WCC Player of the Year Kaylynne Truong to six points on 2-of-9 shooting.
Yvonne Ejim led the Zags with 19 points and eight rebounds but her star teammates were stymied. Gonzaga came in shooting 42% from 3-point range and Brynna Maxwell held the second-best 3-point shooting percentage in the nation coming in at 49.43%, but the team finished just 1 for 17 and Maxwell scored four points on 1-of-10 shooting missing all five of her 3s.
The Zags missed six straight shots spanning halftime and made a forgettable showing in their sixth straight NCAA Tournament.
Ole Miss used a 9-0 run late in the first half to build a 26-16 lead as the Zags missed four straight shots. Collins' three-point play 1:13 before halftime helped put the Rebels ahead 34-21 at the break.
A physical, defensive game, both teams took a while to find any offensive rhythm and began 7 for 22. They combined to miss the first 10 3-pointers before Baker connected at the 5:52 mark of the second quarter for Ole Miss.
Gonzaga: Ejim picked up her third foul with 3:52 left in the second quarter. ... Gonzaga's three seniors — Truong, twin sister Kayleigh and Maxwell — and redshirt junior Eliza Hollingsworth all announced after the final regular-season game they plan to return for one more season.
Ole Miss: The Rebels improved to 21-0 when holding teams to 60 or fewer points. ... The Ole Miss bench outscored the Gonzaga reserves 33-6 and crashed the boards to hold a 51-36 overall rebounding advantage.
DOWNLOAD THE KREM SMARTPHONE APP
DOWNLOAD FOR IPHONE HERE | DOWNLOAD FOR ANDROID HERE
HOW TO ADD THE KREM+ APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE
ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KREM in the Channel Store.
Fire TV: search for "KREM" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.
To report a typo or grammatical error, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.