OXFORD • Ole Miss coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin wants to see her rebuilding Rebels win games within the games in SEC play.
The Rebels nearly gave her much more than that, but Georgia pushed away pesky Ole Miss in the fourth quarter to win 58-51 before 1,093 fans at The Pavilion on Thursday night.
Ole Miss (7-7, 0-1 SEC) had won two of its last three pre-conference games, but Georgia (10-4, 1-0 SEC) won its third-straight in a series it leads 36-13.
If the series record is dominant the game never was, but the Bulldogs’ physicality helped swing things their way.
When Ole Miss could have grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter its play in the paint was problematic.
Contested shots from in close fell short of the rim, and Deja Cage committed a turnover.
By contrast, Georgia’s physical guard Stephanie Paul had six points from down low in the quarter, and the Bulldogs stretched their lead to 51-41.
“We took a couple of bad shots. I wish we could get back a couple of passes that I didn’t want us to make. We were pressing. We started to leave our offense and go one-on-one. That’s not going to be good for us,” McPhee-McCuin said.
Quick out of the gate
The Rebels started fast with a 7-0 lead then trailed 13-7 but closed the first quarter with an 8-0 run to lead 15-13.
Ole Miss hit three of six 3-point attempts in the quarter with makes from Jayla Alexander, Cage and Torri Lewis.
Georgia grabbed a second-quarter lead but could not extend it, and paint buckets on the last two possessions by Valerie Nesbitt and Taylor Smith gave Ole Miss a 28-27 lead at halftime.
The Rebels held the Bulldogs to 40.4 percent shooting but shot just 32.8 percent themselves.
Georgia got 23 points from its bench compared to 11 for Ole Miss which played only three reserves.
“I was pleased with our effort. We had opportunities to win and just didn’t make plays,” McPhee-McCuin said.