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Lady Rebels aim at Villanova in first tourney berth since '96

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
March 19, 2004
OXFORD Even Carol Ross didn't expect this.
When the former Ole Miss standout took over the dismal Lady Rebels program a year ago, she said she fully expected to turn the worst team in the Southeastern Conference into a winner.
But she didn't know it would happen immediately.
This time last year, the Lady Rebels had just finished their seventh straight losing season in the SEC. But today, after amassing a 17-13 record (7-7 SEC), they will board a plane for Ames, Iowa for a Sunday date with 25th-ranked Villanova in the first round of the NCAA Women's Tournament.
The West region's No. 10 seed, Ole Miss received its first invitation to the Big Dance in eight years on Sunday.
Ross said her main concern with Villanova is the pace of the game that dominates the pace of the game with a slow, methodical offense. Lady Wildcats standouts Liad Suez and Courtney Mix were both All-Big East selections and helped Villanova close out the regular season with eight straight wins, including a 59-56 victory over powerhouse UConn.
Suez has topped the 20-point mark six times, and leads her team with 13.4 points per game on 46 percent shooting, including 39 percent from three-point range.
The Lady Rebels will try to speed up the game, relying on freshman sensation Armintie Price, the SEC newcomer of the year, who leads Ole Miss with 15.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
The matchup will mark the first meeting of the two teams in over 20 years. In the only previous Ole Miss-Villanova meeting, the Lady Rebels took a 79-62 win in 1983.
The game will be aired live at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.