The Lady Eagles found themselves in a defensive battle against La. Tech, but could not overcome poor offensive shooting losing the contest, 72-61.
The Lady Eagles started the game off in an offensive struggle shooting 5-of-19 from the field in the first period. La. Tech played a physical zone defense and also double-teamed scoring leader Brittanny Dinkins, which kept the entire offense in check; yet, their defensive ability to create turnovers kept La. Tech at bay laying the grounds for a defensive battle.
They managed to find some chemistry in the final two minutes of the first period by going on a 11-1 run giving them the lead 16-10.
In the second period, La. Tech took advantage of USM’s shooting problems by keeping the Lady Eagles from shooting inside the paint. This allowed La. Tech to force turnovers, resulting in ten points. This led to an La. Tech 16-3 run giving them the lead back ending the half, 31-23.
A combination of the Lady Eagle defense and true freshman Shonte Hailes, posting a career high of 27 points, kept the team alive. The Lady Eagle defense totaled 13 steals, resulting in 29 points off turnovers. The defensive effort helped Southern Miss trade blows with LA Tech in the third period, as they came within one point of the Lady Techsters lead 43-42.
“Shonte Hailes has played very well in our previous two games,” said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “She’s confident and comfortable.”
Just as the Lady Eagles found momentum, La. Tech shut down any hopes of a Lady Eagle win by going on a 13-2 run. The biggest problem for the Lady Eagles loss was the team’s poor shooting, as they shot 19-of-65 from the floor. This proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Lady Eagles, as this allowed for the Lady Techsters to walk away with a 72- 61 win.
“When you have players that you depend on go 1-for-7, 2-for-5, 0-for-7, 2-for-8, 4-for-16, you are not [going to] win those balls games,” Lee-McNelis said. “Our hearts were in it but if we don’t make shots than nothing matters.”
The Lady Eagles will stay on the road for both Texas-San Antonio on Jan. 5 and Texas-El Paso on Jan. 7.