The Southern Miss Lady Eagles (16-5, 5-3) upset the 21st-ranked Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (18-4, 7-1) 68-56 Wednesday night to hand the Blue Raiders their first conference loss.
Jerontay Clemons led the charge for the Lady Eagles with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Tamara Jones stuffed the stat sheet in impressive fashion. Jones had 15 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks off the bench.
In an odd game, USM did not attempt a single free throw until the 11:32 mark in the second half. Over the last 11 and a half minutes, USM attempted 22 free throws, converting on 13 of them.
MTSU led at halftime 29-27 behind a strong performance from Ebony Rowe, but USM went on a 14-2 run early in the second half to distance themselves from the Blue Raiders. Rowe finished the game with 22 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and a block.
The biggest keys to the game were rebounds and free throw shooting considering neither team shot well from the field. Even star point guard Jamierra Faulkner had a rough night shooting, going 3-of-15 from the field, but her 11 assists were crucial to the team’s performance.
USM won the rebounding battle 49-40 and had a lot of second shots due to offensive rebounds. The Lady Eagles were also a lot more efficient from the charity stripe, shooting 59 percent compared to the Blue Raiders.
The bench play was another huge advantage for the Lady Eagles. The second unit out scored Middle Tennessee’s reserves 25-8. Kierra Jordan was a key contributor for the second unit as she scored ten points and grabbed
Voche’ Martin anchored the middle of the defense and forced the Blue Raiders to take more jumpers than they wanted to. She finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
The Lady Eagles will take their two-game winning streak on the road to take on the Charlotte 49ers Saturday. Tip off is for 6 p.m.