The Southern Miss Lady Eagles were riding a four-gaming winning streak heading into Thursday’s regular-season finale against Charlotte, but a big early lead for Charlotte and a 0-for-19 mark from three-point range were factors in Southern Miss’ 59-46 loss on the road.
Southern Miss and Charlotte faced off at Reed Green Coliseum earlier in the season on Jan. 17. The Lady Eagles defeated Charlotte 65-54 in that contest.
At the start of the first quarter, junior guard Alarie Mayze scored the team’s first buckets, but it was not enough early on to give them the spark they needed in the first. The Lady Eagles were down 12-4 with 5:35 left in the first quarter before calling a timeout. At the end of the first quarter, Southern Miss trailed Charlotte 20-14.
An 8-0 run by Charlotte in the second quarter widened the deficit for Southern Miss, as the 49ers took a 32-16 lead with 4:25 left to play until halftime. Southern Miss trailed 37-20 at the halftime break but did outrebound Charlotte 22-15.
Southern Miss attempted a comeback of the second half of the contest. The Lady Eagles outscored Charlotte 14-6 in the second half, and midway through the fourth quarter, Southern Miss managed to cut the lead to five with 8:43 left in the game on a Respect Leaphart layup. Another Leaphart layup at the 4:38 mark cut Charlotte’s lead to one point. However, Charlotte finished the game on a 13-2 run to clinch the win.
Hailes and Leaphart had a combined 27 points in the contest, but it was not enough to give Lady Eagles team the win. Hailes led the team in scoring with 17 points and six rebounds, while Leaphart posted a double-double with 10-points and 12 rebounds. Southern Miss converted 20-of-64 shots in the contest, compared to 22-of 49 for Charlotte. However, seven of the 22 made shots for Charlotte were successful three-point attempts.
With the loss, Southern Miss finishes the regular season with a 17-12 overall record and a 9-7 conference record. The Lady Eagles will now move on to the 2019 Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas. Southern Miss enters the tournament as the eighth seed and will play ninth-seeded North Texas in the first round of play at 11 a.m. on March 13.