Full of dedication and energy, the Southern Miss Lady Eagles look to build off a disappointing 15-16 record from a season ago.
After winning its home exhibition game Monday against the Auburn-Montgomery Warhawks 77-54, the Lady Eagles begin the season with high spirits.
Ninth year head coach Joye Lee- McNelis said the “time is now” for her team to showcase their abilities and team chemistry on the court. “It has been a long journey for the ladies on this team and getting them ready for the regular season,” Lee-McNelis said. “Practicing four mornings a week at 6 a.m. during the summer has prepared them for the long-haul during the regular season.”
“We’ve got to be ready in every aspect of the game,” Lee-McNelis said. The Lady Eagles seem to be headed in that direction, out-rebounding the Wahawks 46-40, recording 21 steals, forcing 21 turnovers and converting them into 39 points.
Despite a big second half surge by the Warhawks cutting the score to 59-47, The Lady Eagles outscored AUM 18-7 in the final eight minutes.
Senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner led all USM scorers with 24 points, followed by 16 points from transfer forward Tamara Jones and 13 points from freshman forward Ashley Folsom. Although they won the game, Faulkner felt the team must continue to get better.
“We have to constantly improve and learn from the mistakes we made during the game,” Faulkner said. “If we do this, we will do well in the season opener.”
The Lady Eagles open the regular season tomorrow at home against West Alabama. To help kick off the season, the game will include an “Education Day” as a way to give back to the Hattiesburg community. The team invited over 1,200 elementary school students to visit campus and to see what Lady Eagle Basketball has to offer.
“I hope that every child can come and enjoy the game,” Lee-McNelis said. “We need everyone’s support, including their parents and our students here on campus. Having a good support system truly makes a difference.”
In 2012, they played well in conference play going 9-6, but struggled against non-conference opponents going 6-10. Using this as motivation, the team looks to achieve many goals this year.
“We are striving to win all of our homes games and ultimately win a championship,” Faulkner said.
The opening game against West Alabama will tip-off at 11 a.m. at Reed Green Coliseum.