The Lady Eagles overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Tulane 66-58 in their 66th meeting against the Green Wave. The win now extends Southern Miss all-time series lead to 36-30 in favor of Southern Miss.
“Tulane is in the American Conference and that’s the same league with UConn and South Flordia, teams that are always in the NCAA tournament every year,” said Head Coach Joy-Lee McNelis. “For us to play that caliber of an opponent and to get a win here at home is huge for us.”
Southern Miss’ defense proved to be key in taking the win as they held Tulane to a 33 percent shooting percentage, along with forcing 17 turnovers, 10 of which were steals.
The Lady Eagles struggled early in the first period due to shooting problems. Tulane shot 7-of-12 playing key to an 8-0 run that put Southern Miss behind. The Lady Eagles shot only 4-of-14 which helped put the Green Wave ahead 22-12.
The Lady Eagles took the lead in the second period and never looked back. A 9-2 run surged Southern Miss back into the game and a pair of free throws from senior Jayla King tied the game 25-25. A shot from junior Alaire Mayze later gave the Lady Eagles their first lead since a brief 4-3 lead three minutes into the first quarter.
The defense continued to play strong in the second half. At 34-30 the Lady Eagles put together another a 9-0 run and held Tulane scoreless for almost three and a half minutes. The Green Wave did manage to shake away the double-digit deficit within the final minutes of the third period as they went on a 5-1 run which made the score 49-41.
Tulane finally found its rhythm in the fourth period as they tied the game 55-55 with 4:01 left to play. Fortunately for Southern Miss, Tulane had early foul trouble which allowed for Southern Miss to reach the free throw line in which they shot 7-oof-12 in the fourth period. Tulane had three different players with four fouls by the end of the game. In the final minutes, sophomore Shonte Hailes’ six points and two defensive rebounds were crucial in keeping the Lady Eagles ahead.
“Our defense created opportunities for our offense,” McNelis said. “That was the difference. We did a great job in that first and second quarter in boxing out and we were able to get some key rebounds and get some over the back calls. Late in that fourth quarter we forgot to box out and tried to jump with them. [But] that caused us to get baskets going the other way.”
At the end of night, Hailes led the team with 22 points as well as having seven points and three steals. King also had a strong night, posting her first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles return to action against Mississippi Valley State on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Reed Green Coliseum.