In a game where both teams touted significant records, someone had to lose.
The Lady Eagles fell 78-61 in a contest that was much more closer than the score indicated due to late-game situations and pivotal possessions. The 49ers have had the Lady Eagles’ number recently, beating Southern Miss in every contest since 2002.
“They play with a lot of poise,” said Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “They don’t get very rattled. They play extremely well together.”
Charlotte shot an efficient 59 percent from the field including 6-of-18 from the three-point line. On the other hand, Southern Miss shot 35.7 percent from the field, captured by a 3-of-16 showing in the first quarter from the field.
USM was off to their turnover-causing ways as they forced 23 turnovers. But, USM also turned the ball over 20 times themselves and was outscored 44-18 in the paint.
“We just did not play within ourselves and within our own abilities,” Lee-McNelis said. “As soon as we would make our run, we would turn the ball over. Again, they were not turnovers that they made us do. It was just silly passes.”
The defensive full-court press was broken often by Charlotte, who scored 20 points off of 20 Southern Miss turnovers. But, after avoiding the press in the second quarter after Charlotte outscored Southern Miss 23-9 in the first period, Southern Miss went right back to it in the second half.
“Through the scouting of them, they do not handle pressure,” Lee-McNelis said. “They play point guard by committee. They may break your press a few times, but over the long haul, they’re eventually going to cough it. It was the mistakes in the back of our press where we screwed up our rotations.”
Charlotte led by as many as 15 points, led by five players who scored in double digits for the 49ers. Southern Miss on the other hand, only had two players to tout that honor.
“No one is [told] that they can’t shoot,” Lee-McNelis said. “It’s a free-for-all. They know what they’re capable of doing and what they’re allowed to do. Any kid on our team can shoot the ball. They [got to] score.”
Guard Brittanny Dinkins, who had a career-high 32 points on Thursday against Old Dominion, recorded 25 points on 9-of-22 shooting from the field. Sophomore Keri Jewett-Giles followed behind with 17 points.
Southern Miss’ offense stalled several times in the contest, having droughts at least 3 minutes long at several points in the game. The USM offense revolves around Dinkins, but the USM shot selection led to the shooting percentage being mildly low.
“For me, I just have to get touches,” Dinkins said. “Either I have to score or I have to make a play. I’m pretty sure some of them are questionable. But it goes again to our teammates trusting me. One man can’t do it all.”
Southern Miss will be on the road to face North Texas at 7 p.m. in Denton, TX on Jan. 19.