Following a 78-65 point victory over the FIU Panthers, The Lady Eagles stayed in The Sunshine State to take on Florida Atlantic University. Southern Miss went 2-0 in the state of Florida over the weekend, beat FAU 67-65.
The victory is Southern Miss’ fifth in a row. USM is now 17-7 overall and 10-3 in Conference-USA play. The two-point loss dropped FAU to 11-12 and 5-7 in C-USA play.
Senior Tamara Jones and Jerontay Clemons, led the Lady Eagles in scoring with 18 points each. Jones also finished with seven rebounds. Clemons made her presence felt on the defensive end of the floor, adding four steals to her stat line.
Southern Miss played most of the game trying to comeback from a deficit. “Our players were not playing with a lot of energy, then all of sudden, they caught fire,” said McNelis.
With just under four minutes left in the game, Southern Miss was trailing the The Lady Owls 63-51. Brittanny Dinkins cashed in at the charity strip going 2-of-2 at the line. On USM next defensive possession, Clemons came away with a timely steal and converted a layup to cut the lead to 63-55.
The Lady Owls would score their final points in the game with 2:30 left on a pair of free throws. “That was one of the most exciting final two minutes you could imagine,” said McNelis. “We were kind of dead in the water. We had not played well in our matchup, we tried man and they took advantage of us. We went to our full-court press it caught them off guard.
The Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Owls 12-0 in the final two minutes and thirty second of the game for the 67-65 point victory. Clemons played a large role during the run. After driving to the hoop for a layup, she recored another steal and found Jones running to the rim for a layup.
Jones was fouled on the play and made the free throw for the three point play to put The Lady Eagles within five points. With the score at 60-65, Jones found herself at the free throw line again after getting fouled on a layup.
Jones failed to convert the three point play this time and the lead was 55-62 with 1:34 left to play. “We played with no fear,” said McNelis. “We’re going to figure out how to win it and play hard. I challenged them. Early in the game we did not guard the ball hard. They had some players step up and make some big shots for them.”
USM answered the challenge from its head coach. Southern Miss stopped the Lady Owls twice on offense. Both defensive stands turned into points for the Lady Eagles. Kierra Jordan made an open shot to give Southern Miss a one-point 66-65 lead.
The Lady Eagles forced another FAU turnover and the Lady Owls were forced to foul. Jones was fouled and made one of the two free throws to seal a 67-65 point victory for the Lady Eagles