The Southern Miss Lady Eagles (8-5) fell to Houston (6-7) at home on Sunday by a score of 61-44. Junior guard Shonte Hailes’ return from injury to the starting lineup helped the Lady Eagles keep it close for most of the contest, but ultimately the team’s offensive struggles were too great to overcome.
Seven lead changes occurred in the first half of play. While the two teams were tied 10-10 after one quarter, Houston outscored the Lady Eagles 13-9 in the second quarter to take a 23-19 lead into the halftime break.
It was not until the third period that the Lady Cougars created a big run, featuring four makes from behind the arc to and 19 total points to gain separation against Southern Miss. The Lady Eagles battled back to pull within eight points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Cougars continued to shoot at a higher percentage and put the game away late.
Both teams struggled to get baskets throughout the night, particularly from three-point range. The Lady Eagles made just four shots from the perimeter on 21 attempts, while the Lady Cougars fared slightly better, making seven three-point shots.
Overall, Houston made 45.3 percent of its field goal attempts in the game, compared to Southern Miss’ 32.7 percent.
Junior forward Alarie Mayze led the Lady Eagles in points for the first time this season, scoring nine and also grabbing three rebounds. Fellow junior forward Respect Leaphart contributed with seven points and six rebounds in the losing effort.
Hailes made 2-of-10 attempts from the field and 1-of-7 from three-point range in her return to the hardwood, finishing with five points and three assists.
With the new year will come a new beginning for the Lady Eagles as they move toward the start of Conference USA competition. The first game of the conference slate will take place on Thursday, Jan. 3 against a 9-3 Rice squad. Tip-off at Reed Green Coliseum is set for 6 p.m.