Lady Eagles fall in double-overtime thriller to Mississippi State 74-66

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The University of Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles lost to Mississippi State in double-overtime, 74-66 in the second round matchup of the WNIT Monday evening.

With 1:51 remaining in the second half, Southern Miss trailed 55-52; however, Tamara Jones connected on a huge three-pointer to tie the game at 55-55. Over the last 1:22, neither team was able to score or establish a good offensive series to put points on the board.

In the first overtime, the Lady Bulldogs (21-13) took the early edge, scoring the first four points to take a 59-55 lead. However, back-to-back field goals from Voche Martin and Jamierra Faulkner tied the game at 59-59 with 2:35 remaining.

Free throws became a critical factor in the last two minutes of the first overtime. Mississippi State connected on all four of their attempts from the charity stripe to take a 65-61 lead with 1:06 remaining, but again, Jones connected on a pivotal three-pointer to cut the deficit to 64-63 with seconds to go in the game.

Southern Miss then failed to secure a rebound which led to them fouling to stop the clock. After previously nailing four free throws, the Lady Bulldogs failed to convert on their free throws, giving the Lady Eagles another chance at a victory.

With eight seconds remaining, Jerontay Clemons was fouled and sent to the free throw line. She was only able to convert on one of two free throws, forcing a second overtime.

Mississippi State took control of the second overtime and never looked back. The Lady Bulldogs converted on a pair of free throws before Jerica James nailed a three-pointer to give them a 70-65 cushion.

The Lady Eagles were shut down offensively, scoring only one point off of a free throw attempt in the second overtime period. In the final 1:55, Mississippi State outscored Southern Miss 9-1 to win the game.
“I am very proud of how hard this team played and how we were able to play as well as we did,” said Southern Miss head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “It was a very hard fought game.”

Neither team shot well from the floor. Southern Miss converted on 37.3 percent (25-for-67) of its field goals while Mississippi State converted 32 percent (24-for-75). The Lady Bulldogs won the battle of the boards 53-47 and outscored the Lady Eagles on second chance points 17-5.

“Congratulations to Mississippi State. It was a great win for them,” McNelis said. “The final overtime was the difference in the game. We had some slippage and were not able to do some necessary things to get the victory.”

Four Lady Eagles finished in double figures. Jamierra Faulkner led all scorers for Southern Miss with 20 points, six assists and six steals, finishing her career as the all-time leader in assists with 863, steals with 363 and third in points with 2,056. Tamara Jones scored 11 points, followed by Jerontay Clemons with 10 points and Brittany Dinkins with 10.

Southern Miss finished the 2013-14 season with a 27-7 record, tying the most wins in school history. Mississippi State (21-13) will face Auburn in the third round of the WNIT on Thursday.