Southern Miss defeated Tennessee Tech 80-58 Wednesday night at home, improving its record to 6-1.
Southern Miss opened up the game on a 10-2 run, with ten out of the first 12 points coming off of jumpers and dribble penetration.
In the first half, the cushion was at least eight points for the better part of the period. With consistent subbing in and out by both teams, neither team could get into a rhythm with its players.
With a Tennessee Tech timeout at the 7:45 mark, the team came out with an offensive spark and went on a 21-7 run.
A scoring drought started when the Lady Eagles did not score a bucket for over three minutes toward the end of the first half, but Brooke Rhodes ended the drought with a three-pointer.
On the last play of the half, Hannah Goolsby stood in the corner and was dished off the ball on the right side of the baseline. She rose up and hit the three with the time expiring in the half. The drought allowed Tennessee Tech to come back on a 12-3 run to end the half tied at 33-all.
“We got off to a great start in the first half,” said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “You have to give Tennessee Tech credit because they come roaring back. They did a tremendous job of closing out the final four minutes of the half to tie the game at the half.”
In the second half, USM started the second half on a 25-6 run and never looked back. The Lady Eagles had ballooned their lead in the second half to 19 with just under 11 minutes remaining, putting the game out of reach for Tennessee Tech.
“The pleasing thing for me about our team is that we didn’t lay down and die,” McNelis said. “We came out the second half and we really played well. I think our biggest improvement in this game was our execution of our half-court offense. We were able to get three-balls by Brooke and three-balls by Tamara and Kierra Jordan really went to work on the inside. They were our big three tonight.”
With the game winding down in the last five minutes, Tennessee Tech was mauled by turnovers and missed shots, leading to easy USM buckets down the stretch to extend its lead.
The Lady Eagles were led in scoring by Tamara Jones, who came off the bench and scored 14 points on 6-10 shooting from the field in 20 minutes. USM forwards Voche’ Martin and Kierra Jordan established a post presence early in the game. Eleven Lady Eagles scored in the game, and everyone attempted at least one shot.
Tennessee Tech finished with 14 points in the paint, only converting on 24 percent of the shots taken in the restricted area. The first 10 points by Tech were scored on jumpers and free throws, with USM not allowing easy buckets.
An all-around effort by the Lady Eagles helped them pull out the blowout win in Reed-Green Coliseum. The 6-1 Golden Eagles will take on the 5-2 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in Fort Myers, Florida Saturday at 6 p.m.