The Southern Miss women’s basketball team earned their third straight win in a Thursday night non-conference matchup against Mississippi Valley State at Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss struggled to create and make shots to start the contest. The team ended the first quarter tied 16-16 with the Devilettes after shooting just 3-of-15 from the field.
The Lady Eagles found somewhat of an offensive groove in the second quarter, scoring 22 points. Mississippi Valley State did not back down, however, and 16 first-half points from Devilette guard Kristy Parker helped to keep the score close. After shooting 10-for-31 from the field in the first two quarters, Southern Miss headed into halftime with a slim 38-37 lead.
“Our challenge was [that] we couldn’t guard them,” said Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “We did a poor job of guarding the ball screens.”
Southern Miss took advantage of every offensive opportunity in the second half. Sophomore Shonte Hailes and senior Jayla King totaled 15 and 11 second half points, respectively, and the Lady Eagles outscored the Devilettes 26-18 in the third quarter and 20-14 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“I’m really proud of how they responded to the challenge in the second half,” McNelis said. “Our team really showed up and did the things that we wanted them to do in the first half.”
King and junior Alarie Mayze both finished with double-doubles on the night. King finished the night as the leading scorer with 19 points and 17 rebounds, earning her second double-double on the season, while Mayze finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Free throws also helped to provide a scoring boost to the team throughout the entire contest. In the first half, the team shot 16-of-20 attempts from the line, which helped the Lady Eagles generate points while the offense otherwise struggled. Overall, Southern Miss converted 81.5 percent of their free throw attempts on the night.
As her team prepares to face a tough Mississippi State squad, Coach McNelis stressed the importance of confidence and preparation to her team.
“We don’t have anything to lose” McNelis said. “We’ve just mentally got to be prepared.”
Up next for the Lady Eagles is a road contest against No. 7 ranked Mississippi State on Nov .19 in Starkville. The game starts at 2 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the SEC Network.