Southern Miss (10-10, 2-5 C-USA) has now won two of its last three Conference USA games following a 69-56 road win over the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers on Thursday. The team entered the contest with a 1-5 conference record and moved back to .500 overall with the win.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to an early 6-3 lead in the first five minutes of play off of baskets made by redshirt senior Megan Brown and junior Respect Leaphart. Southern Miss went on a subsequent 9-2 run during the rest of the quarter to take a 15-5 lead.
Two subsequent baskets by Brown and one by redshirt freshman center Kelsey Jones extended Southern Miss’ lead to 22-5 early in the second quarter. The Lady Toppers also went on a 7-0 run in the quarter to cut the team’s lead to 22-12, but the Lady Eagles narrowly outscored Western Kentucky 12-11 to take a 34-23 halftime lead.
Leaphart was Southern Miss’ leading scorer with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half. Jones followed Leaphart with nine points.
Southern Miss continued to expand on its lead in the third quarter, taking a 51-40 lead into the fourth quarter. In the final period, Western Kentucky cut the Southern Miss lead to eight points at the 6:26 mark and eight points again at the 2:20 mark. The Lady Eagles closed out the game on a 5-1 run to expand their margin of victory.
Both Leaphart and Jones notched double-doubles against the Lady Toppers. Leaphart finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Jones scored 14 points and 13 rebounds, including 10 defensive rebounds. Brown was the only other Southern Miss player to record double-digits in scoring with 10 points on the night.
Southern Miss also outrebounded Western Kentucky 42-26 and also took advantage of 49 points from bench players.
The 69 points scored against Western Kentucky is the highest point total for the team in a game since an 84-38 win over Blue Mountain College on Dec. 18.
The Lady Eagles return to the court on Saturday for a road contest against Marshall. The two teams are scheduled for a noon tipoff in Huntington, West Virginia.