CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Jessica Simmonds scored 14 points Sunday night to help George Washington rally from a 14-point second-half deficit to beat Mississippi 60-57 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Anna Montanana added 13 points and came up big in the final two minutes for the ninth-seeded Colonials (23-8), who advanced to face host North Carolina on Tuesday in the Tempe Regional.Elizabeth Cansdale scored 13 points to lead the eighth-seeded Lady Rebels (19-11), who scored just two points in the final 7½ minutes to lose in the first round for the second straight year.Mississippi led 55-41 on a score from Carletta Brown with 7:27 to play, but the Colonials clawed their way back into the game with 17 straight points over the next six minutes. George Washington eventually pushed ahead 56-55 on two free throws from Amanda Locascio with 2:13 left.That's when Montanana made two key plays. First she hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to increase the margin to 58-55 with 1:39 left.Then, after Ellen Buchanan scored on a putback to make it 58-57, Montanana hit two free throws with 9.7 seconds left to push the margin back to three.Ole Miss had a chance to tie it, but Brown's desperation 3-pointer just before the horn missed everything to seal the Lady Rebels' collapse.Mississippi is in its 16th tournament and has four regional final appearances, but the Lady Rebels have not won in the NCAAs since taking an 83-61 first-round win against Indiana in 1994. Ole Miss lost in the first round in each of the next two years and then missed the tournament for eight straight years.Coach Carol Ross -- a four-year starter for Mississippi from 1977-81 -- ended that streak in her first season at her alma mater. Last year's team went 17-14 and lost to Villanova in the first round.This year's team appeared ready to take another step, scoring nine straight points to start the second half for a 43-33 lead with 17:39 to play. But after hitting their first four shots after the break, they missed 11 of their final 13 shots to blow that lead.