Southern Miss looked to continue its positive momentum in the Women’s Basketball Invitational against North Alabama on Monday night, but the Lady Eagles lost 69-65 in overtime at Reed Green Coliseum.
“Through this, we have seen growth in this team,” Southern Miss head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “Defensively there were times we did a tremendous job but we couldn’t really score. We were out of sync offensively and that’s frustrating. I think it will be a true growth process for this team. I was disappointed with how we played in overtime.”
Junior guard Shonte Hailes kicked the game off for the Lady Eagles with their first two points. Not long afterward, Hailes hit a three-pointer for Southern Miss to give the team an early 8-2 lead for the team.
However, North Alabama shot 11 three-pointers in the first half and made six of them, which allowed them to keep the score close in the first half. Southern Miss led 17-16 at the end of the first quarter.
During the second quarter, both teams went back-and-forth in the scoring department, but both teams also struggled with turnovers. Southern Miss had a total of 12 turnovers in the first half and North Alabama turned the ball over 14 times.
At the half, Southern Miss held a narrow 31-30 lead. Hailes was the leading scorer at that point with 10 points and right behind her was Respect Leaphart with eight points.
North Alabama quickly took the lead at the beginning of the third quarter on a layup, but Southern Miss kept the game within reach and exchanged leads in the quarter. The Lady Eagles ended the quarter with a 49-46 lead following two late free throws from Kelsey Jones and a layup from Hailes.
North Alabama managed to keep themselves in the game on offense and defense as well in the fourth quarter. Both teams continued to play a close game in the final quarter, but could not manage to extend the lead on either end.
The final two minutes of the game paved the way for an overtime period. Down, 60-55 with 1:58 remaining, Leaphart put the Lady Eagles within one with a big layup at the 29-second mark. Hailes then hit two key free throws to tie the game 61-61 with 13 seconds left.
North Alabama a chance to win the game with a three-pointer at the end of the fourth period, but couldn’t get the basket to go in, forcing an overtime period.
Redshirt senior Megan Brown hit a three-point shot to open the extra period, but only mustered only one point during the rest of the overtime period, allowing North Alabama to come away with a 69-65 win to advance in the WBI.
Hailes finished with a team-high 15 points, while Mayze scored 14 points and had seven rebounds. Also in the double-digit column were Leaphart with 12 points and Brown with 11.
Redshirt senior Megan Brown talked about her last game and her message to her team.
“I would want to tell my teammates you are a fighter,” Brown said. “You are going to get punched in the face a couple of times, but you have to get up and fight. When life hits you, get up.”
With the loss, the Lady Eagles conclude the 2018-2019 season with an overall record of 18-14.