The Lady Eagles bounced back after losing the conference opener against Louisiana Tech, by beating Texas-San Antonio for their first conference win, 69-68.
Looking to bounce back from their poor opener, the Lady Eagles jumped to a fast start taking a 25-12 lead. The early success came from successful team shooting, with the team going 9-of-18.
“What won the game for us was how we started,” said Head Coach Joy Lee-McNelis. “That first quarter we played really, really well. I was extremely pleased with how we played.”
However, as fast as their start was, the Roadrunners battled back in the second period. The Roadrunner defense came alive as the Lady Eagle offense fell off, shooting 4-of-11 on field goal attempts.
At the same time, the Roadrunner offense took advantage of the Lady Eagles’ ten turnovers in the same frame and scored 12 points making the score, 36-31. Jayla King’s 11 rebounds played a crucial role in keeping the Lady Eagle offense afloat. King finished the night with her fourth double-double of the season totaling a season high of 18 rebounds and 12 points, just one of the several important performances of the night.
The Roadrunner offense continued to click as their bench scored eight points in the third period, and 12 points off of second chance points, this would help create several lead changes in the half. Yet, the Lady Eagles still managed to retain the lead 55-52 at the end of the 3rd period.
The Roadrunners continued to put pressure on the Lady Eagles forcing two ties in the fourth period. The game came down to the final seconds, but a free throw from King sealed the 69-68 win. In total, the Lady Eagles held off eight lead changes and four ties in the second half.
The Lady Eagles had several important performances as Brittanny Dinkins led the team with 16 points. Megan Brown had a season-high 14 points going 7-of-8 from the free throw line and Shonte Hailes picked up another 12 points.
“What a basketball game,” said Lee-McNelis. “We made some defensive changes, we had some slip ups but our defense on that last possession did a great job of making that last shot an extremely tough shot. I thought that gave this team a lot of confidence.”
On Saturday, the Lady Eagles picked up their second win against Texas-El Paso.
The Lady Eagles again jumped to another fast start as they opened the first period with a 16-7 lead. As the first period began to close, the Miners closed gap at 18-12.
Despite, the Miners effort they could not stop Dinkins, who had the hot hand, as she scored 14 points and was 7-of-9 from the floor in the first half. The offense continued to click as they shot 64.3 percent in the first half alone.
Much like the Lady Eagles offense, the Miner offense improved their shooting from 28 percent in the first period to 58 percent in the second. This allowed for the Miners to stay competitive with the Lady Eagles as they came within four points of tying the Lady Eagles. However, a combination of Dinkins’ first half performance, and Hailes’ six points and eight assists, built the Lady Eagle lead to nine points ending the half 38-29.
“The heavy offensive play of Shonte Hailes proves that she has a chance to be big,” Lee-McNelis said. “We won the ball game because Shonte Hailes was directing our offense.”
Much like the first half, the Miners continued to stay feisty and refused to be put away. Their offense stayed alive by picking up 12 rebounds and staying consistent with their field goal shooting, shooting over 50 percent again. This helped the Miners close the Lady Eagle lead to within two points, 47-45.
The Lady Eagles continued to keep their lead by simply playing virtually mistake free basketball, despite the small offensive fall off in the third period, but they still managed to keep their lead, 56-49.
Although the Miners again increased their field goal percentage to 70 percent, they were plagued by several mistakes. The Lady Eagles took advantage of that by picking up six steals and scoring 13 points off of the Miners’ turnovers. The Lady Eagles picked up their second win in a row, 79-68.
Dinkins put up a career-high 29 points, which helped her to continue to climb Southern Miss’ all-time scoring leader list, at 19. Hailes picked up her first career double-double finishing with ten points and ten assists.
“I wish our Southern Miss fans could’ve been here for this game because we played as a team,” Lee-McNelis said. “We made the extra pass. We were extremely unselfish offensively. It was really fun to watch. I can’t tell you how proud I am of how much we shared the basketball.
The Lady Eagles return home to play Old Dominion on Jan. 12th. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.