The Southern Miss Lady Eagles hosted the Mississippi College Choctaws on Nov. 8, defeating the visiting team 91-73 on the heels of a strong defense effort.
The game started as Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis put it in the off-season players with her team’s inability to put taller statured players on the floor.
“Because of being small, our defense has got to be our key,” Lee-McNelis said. “You’ve got to be able to play an up-tempo defense. A lot of times it’s just guts that you’re not going to get by [us].”
The Golden Eagles ran a press defense, forcing 15 turnovers in the first half and 28 for the entire contest. The starting lineup had an average height of five-feet, eight inches and had to use every inch to utilize their skills in the post area.
“Creating havoc in the full court,” Lee-McNelis said. “We’ve just got to be able to play fast. Also, we have to understand when it’s time to slow down.”
Forward Jayla King led the way with 13 points and four rebounds in the first half, including going 3-of-3 from deep into halftime.
“At first I was a little tired,” King said. “My teammates kept giving me the ball in open holes so I can score easily.”
King finished with 25 points and was rounded out by guard Brittanny Dinkins’ nine points, four rebounds and four steals and also guard Lashyra Cotton’s eight points and three rebounds off the bench.
“It truly was a team effort and you saw bright spots from everywhere,” Lee-McNelis said. “We’ve got to continue to make that stride for us to be a complete team.”
By halftime, the Golden Eagles were up 40-27 with all of the momentum heading into the intermission.
The return of guard Megan Brown was not only on the defensive end where she suffocated ball handlers, as she tallied 13 points and seven rebounds on the night.
“To be honest, I was just really excited and I wasn’t even anticipating being that excited,” Brown said. “I know I left a lot of points on the board. I’m not really flashy but I want to do the things that I can do consistently.”
The Lady Eagles did not shoot the ball particularly well from deep, totaling a 5 of 18 performance from three-point range. And with an undersized lineup, the three-point arch may prove to be important in the Golden Eagle offense.
“We have a lot of three ball weapons,” Lee-McNelis said. “I think it’s a huge plus for us, and it’s going to be very critical.”
The Lady Eagles return to Reed Green Coliseum and host New Orleans on Nov. 13 at 2 p.m.