Blazers’ Strong Defense Not Enough to Stop Eagles
Brooke Rhodes jumps as she faces the Middle Tennessee defense Thursday night in the Reed Greene Coliseum. Southern Miss wins in overtime 70, 65. The Lady Eagles played against UAB Saturday night stealing another victory. -Susan Broadbridge
The Lady Eagles (15-7, 8-3) continued their three-game winning streak as they defeated the UAB Blazers, 44-39, despite only shooting 29 percent from the field.
During a stretch in the first half, the Golden Eagles went 2-of-10 from the field. During the same stretch, all of the starters had only hit one field goal each.
“It was truly a defensive battle,” head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “Both teams put the grind to it defensively.”
UAB guard Chelsee Black finished the first half 5-of-5 from the field, including four threes in only 17 minutes. No other player for UAB had over 7 points.
“We went to the (man-to-man defense), and they destroyed us in man,” McNelis said. “We looked sluggish defensively on the bump and it takes three people to bump that action.”
In the second half, Southern Miss held UAB to only 8 points, easily its best defensive performance of the season. UAB shot 3-of-26 from the field in the second half, and 2-of-15 from behind the arc.
Southern Miss also outrebounded UAB 46-28, including 18 offensive rebounds. The 18 offensive rebounds led to the Lady Eagles gaining 14 second chance points.
UAB’s 39 points was its season low and did not get a chance to get it going in the second half. Leading scorer Black, finished the game shooting 1-of-5 shooting in the second half. Only Black and Whytney Singleton made field goals in the second half for UAB.
“People say rebounding and defense wins championships, and I think tonight, that’s what gave us the win,” McNelis said. “It wasn’t anything we did offensively, for sure.”
Forward Tamara Jones finished as the leading scorer for the Lady Eagles, scoring 12 points.
Jones shot just 3-of-14 from the field, but was crucial down the stretch when she made all six of her free throws, including two to put the Lady Eagles up by five to end the game.
“The shots were on, they just were a little bit too strong, or a little bit too short,” Jones said. “I think making free throws is obviously going to help us get the win.”
Jones also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles did not lead in the second half until Jones’ two free throws with just 13 seconds left in the game.
Their last lead in the game was 06:23 left in the first half. The Lady Eagles finished the game on a 14-2 run over the last 10:19 in the game.
With the win, the Lady Eagles will not have to face another team higher than them in the rankings. Southern Miss holds sole position of third in the conference and will look to finish the season strong.
The Lady Eagles will travel to Miami, Florida, to take on FIU on Feb. 12, at 5 p.m.