Samford junior forward Savannah Hill hit a layup with five seconds left in the game to lift the Bulldog women's basketball team to a 66-65 win over Ole Miss in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Thursday night at the Pete Hanna Center.
"This is great for our team," Samford head coach Mike Morris said. "To beat a good SEC team in Ole Miss and to do it the way we did it was great. I was pleased with our players and with the toughness and the grit they showed."
Samford advances to play at the winner of Friday night's game between Missouri State and Oral Roberts. The date a time of the game will be announced later.
Hill scored 19 points, making 7-of-14 shots from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. Samford was led in scoring by Emily London with 21 points. Hannah Dawson, Monica Maxwell and Alex Crow scored six points each for the Bulldogs.
"A lot of people thought there would just be one game and we would be done," Hill said. "But I think, deep down we knew we could win. We gave it everything we had and just came to play tonight."
Ole Miss was led in scoring by Bianca Thomas with 22 points. Elizabeth Robertson scored 12 points, while Kayla Melson added 10 points for the Rebels.
As a team, Samford shot 45.7 percent from the floor, including a 26.3-percent effort from three-point range. Ole Miss shot 41.5 percent overall and 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. Ole Miss out-rebounded Samford, 37-22. The score was tied 13 times and the lead changed hands seven times in the contest.
Ole Miss jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on three-pointers by Robertson and Thomas. Samford then went on a 9-3 run to tie the game at 9-9 with 16:23 to go in the first half after a layup by Dawson. With the score tied, 15-15, Ole Miss scored the next five points to take a 20-15 lead with 8:45 to go in the first half after a three-pointer by Thomas. Ole Miss pushed its lead out to eight at 27-19 with 3:39 to go in the opening half. Samford, however, closed the half with a 7-0 run to cut the Rebels' lead to one at 27-26 at halftime.
In the second half, with Ole Miss leading, 35-32, Samford went on an 11-2 run to take a six-point lead at 43-37 after a three-pointer by London. With Samford leading, 45-39, Ole Miss scored six-straight points on a three-point play by Melson and a three-pointer by Thomas to tie the score at 45-45 with 13:18 to go in the game.
With the score tied, 48-48, a pair of free throws by London and a basket by Crow gave Samford a 52-48 lead with 8:12 left in the contest. Ole Miss then went on an 11-2 run to take a 59-54 lead with 4:19 to go after a jumper by Robertson.
Samford then scored eight of the next 11 points to tie the game at 62-62 with 1:10 left after a pair of free throws by Crow. Megan Wilderotter made two free throws with 34 seconds left to give Samford a 64-62 lead.
A three-point play by Ole Miss' LaKendra Phillips gave the Rebels a 65-64 lead with 25 seconds to go. After Hill's layup, Melson's jumper bounced off the rim as time expired, giving Samford the 66-65 win.
The Bulldogs' second-round game can be heard locally on WVSU-FM 91.1, or worldwide on the internet at www.samford.edu/wvsu.
Check www.samfordsports.com on Friday night to find out who and when the Bulldogs will play in the second round of the WNIT.