Georgia Southern forced Ole Miss to an extra period, but the Rebels opened overtime on a 9-2 run to pick up a 69-66 victory over visiting Georgia Southern on Monday in a Kids Day contest at the Pavilion in Oxford, Miss.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Rebels (6-5), while Georgia Southern (2-6) dropped its second straight. The Kids Day crowd was announced at 6,574, the third-largest crowd to witness a Georgia Southern women's basketball game in program history.
The Rebels led at the break, 30-26, and stretched that lead to 10 just two minutes into the third period. But the Eagles surged back, taking a 38-36 lead on a three-pointer by Tatum Barber with 4:12 left. Ole Miss retook the lead just before the end of the period on a three-pointer by Jayla Alexander that made the score 43-41.
In the pivotal fourth quarter, the Eagles and the Rebels went back-and-forth with Ole Miss leading by one, 49-48, with 5:29 left. Ole Miss went on a 8-1 run over the next two minutes to build an eight-point lead. Georgia Southern battled back behind Nikki McDonald, who scored seven of her game-high 26 points in the final three minutes to bring the Eagles back into it.
"I said 'we got to go out fighting'. We kept it close as long as possible, and we forced it into overtime," GS coach Anita Howard said. "I really wasn't pleased at how we started overtime, we gave up some easy baskets. But our team believes we can win, we just need to play well and leave it all out on the court. The light switch hasn't turned on for this team, but when it does, we can be dangerous."
Two Eagles joined McDonald in double figures as Tatum Barber chipped in 17 points and Hailey Dias-Allen added 10. Amira Atwater dished out 10 assists, her fifth career double-digit assist game as an Eagle.
Senior Nikki McDonald registered a career-high 26 points to go with nine rebounds, eclipsing her previous career high of 19 points, set while playing for Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State on Nov. 20, 2018. She hit 9-of-20 shots from the floor, including one three-pointer and all three free throws.
With 25 seconds left, freshman Jaiden Hamilton secured an offensive rebound and her jumper in the paint tied the score at 60-all. The Eagles had a last chance to win it in regulation, but McDonald's tip-in try on an out-of-bounds pass with 0.2 seconds left.
The Eagles collected 17 assists while turning the ball over just 12 times, the best assist/turnover ratio in a contest this season.
Georgia Southern will fly to Las Vegas, Nev., to play in the Las Vegas South Point Holiday Hoops Classic. The Eagles will play Kent State on Thursday, Dec. 19, and St. Francis Brooklyn on Friday, Dec. 20.