Southern Miss defeated Middle Tennessee State tonight in overtime fashion by a score of 77-75.
The Lady Eagles knew this would be their toughest matchup of the season, but were not intimidated by the Blue Raiders’ two-star duo. MTSU has just two losses in C-USA since they joined the league, both coming from Southern Miss.
Both teams had a slow start getting fired up offensively. The game was scoreless for three whole minutes until USM’s Alex Coyne sunk 3-pointer and first points of the night. As the game progressed, Southern Miss continued to substitute players in and out in search of a spark.
With 6:45 remaining in the first half, the USM defense forced MTSU’s Olivia Jones to turn the ball over. Coyne pushed the ball up the court assisting Tamara Jones’s 2-point jumper, tying the score 18-18.
It was not long before the Blue Raiders’ quick-handed Ty Petty stole the ball from Kierra Jordan and laid it up giving her team a three point lead, 23-20 three minutes before halftime.
The Lady Eagles were allowing too many turnovers to become fast breaks, and then points for Middle Tennessee State. Petty hit a jumper with the seconds counting down to give her team a 29-24 edge at halftime.
USM was ready to cut out the mental mistakes in the second half of play. Jerontay Clemons had a quiet first half, but rebounded her own miss for two points cutting MTSU’s lead to three, 35-32, with 17:44 on the clock.
The Blue Raiders then went on a 9-0 run, forcing the Lady Eagles to take a timeout with 15 minutes remaining. USM was desperately in need of someone to get hot on the offense.
A missed layup by Clemons led to MTSU’s Abbey Sissom nailing a 3-pointer; she finished with 14 points on the night. The points began stacking up on the Blue Raiders’ side as the Golden Eagles failed to score. Sissom sunk another 3-pointer giving MTSU a 19-3 run over Southern Miss, but there was still 12 minutes left.
The Lady Eagle offense finally got back into their groove led by senior Tamara Jones. She had her third steal of the night, capped off by a layup, cutting MTSU’s lead to only four, 62-58.
Clemons nailed a jumper with 44 seconds ticking down on the clock, giving USM the lead 67-66. MTSU called a timeout with 19 seconds left, setting up a designed play where Jones easily made a layup, sending the game into overtime.
In overtime, MTSU’s Jones quickly made a 3-pointer and Clemons responded with a bucket of her own keeping the score close, 71-70. USM’s Jones scored 5 crucial points in overtime leading her team to victory. Jones finished the night with 35 points and Clemons with 21 points and 9 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles improve to 10-5 overall and 3-1 in conference play. USM will take on the UAB Blazers Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Birmingham, Alabama.