The Southern Miss Lady Eagles women’s basketball team (1-1) took on the Southeastern Louisiana University Lady Lions (0-1) from Hammond, Louisiana, Nov. 13. Coming off a tough loss against the No. 10 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs, the Lady Eagles looked to improve their record to 2-1.
The scoring for Southern Miss began with sophomore guard Daishai Almond converting 1 of 2 free throws to bring them within 1 of the lead. The teams went shot for shot over the course of the first quarter with senior guard Shonte Hailes sinking back to back three-pointers and a mid-range jumper, bringing her first period total to 8 points. Junior guard Allie Kennedy came through with a mid-range jumper to round out the first quarter scoring for the Lady Eagles. At the end of the first period, the Lady Eagles held a slim 11-10 lead over the Lady Lions.
The second period was when the fireworks began. The Lady Eagles shooters caught fire, going on a 16 to 5 run through the first seven minutes of the second quarter. Hailes racked up 4 more points in a perfect 2-2 free throw visit during this run. A block by redshirt senior center Amber Landing on Southeastern’s Aminat Jubril seemed to be the exclamation mark for a Lady Eagles’ defense that allowed only 9 points in the entire second period. The first half ended with a 30-19 lead by the Lady Eagles.
The flow of the Lady Eagles offense continued into the second half as they put up 10 points on 4-7 shooting in four minutes. The Lady Lions ironed out their kinks during halftime, as they too came out with a fast offense that scored 9 points within the first four minutes alone. The speed of the Lady Eagles’ defense, however, could not be matched. Every open look Southeastern got was immediately snubbed shut by a Southern Miss defender.
In the fourth quarter, the adjustments made by Southeastern began to play a key role in their performance. They wore down a tiring Lady Eagles defense and managed to slow the hot shooters on the offense as well. Southern Miss’ lead began to shrink as the quarter continued before it finally became within single digits. Southeastern’s comeback efforts were not enough in the end. The final score of the game was 62-54 in favor of the Lady Eagles.
Throughout the first three quarters of the game, the Lady Eagles were playing strong on both sides of the ball. The defense was strong and the offense hit tremendous shots during their hot streaks.
“I think you have to say hats off to Southeastern in that fourth quarter,” head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said “They went for the knockout punch, but we remained resilient. We could have totally folded, but we didn’t because of the encouragement they received from each other.”
The chemistry between the whole team could be seen from the strong defensive performance throughout the night. Three games into the season last year, the Lady Eagles sat at 1-2. Now, they are 2-1 and looking to take on the competition and prove their worth.
“Being 2-1 feels so much better than 1-2,” Hailes said. “It definitely boosts our confidence and we’re all bought in.”
The Lady Eagles look to take on the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks Nov. 16 in Monroe.