Jan. 5, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. - Sophomore forward Pauline Love recorded her 10th double-double of the season, scoring a game-high 23 points and pulling down 19 rebounds in leading Southern Miss past UCF, 71-54, in the Conference USA opener Saturday. With the win, the Lady Eagles ran their streak to 10-straight over UCF.
"What a great win, it was a team effort," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "I think the difference in the game was that we played a phenomenal second half. Our players really stepped up and made plays. We had a real balanced attack in the second half to be able to take that lead. It's the first time all year that we allow people to make a run, and not only stop them but really put our teeth in them."
Tanesha Washington scored a season-high 13 points for the Lady Eagles, followed by Kendra Reed with 12 and Stephanie Helgeson chipped in 10. Andrea Barber handed out 12 assists.
Tia Lewis led UCF (7-7, 0-1) with a double-double, 17 points and 15 rebounds, while Chelsie Wiley had 14 points and D'Nay Daniels added 11 points.
"Tanesha Washington had a big first half for us," McNelis said. "She played as if she owned the place. She was the one that kept us in the game in the first."
Southern Miss (10-4, 1-0) led 33-31 at the half. The Lady Eagles limited UCF to one field goal over the first 12:53 to start the second half. During that span, Southern Miss used a 14-1 run over a five minute period to take a 14-point lead, 48-34. The Lady Eagles, then, used a 9-4 run to push their lead to 19 points, 57-38, with 7:18 remaining.
Lewis then scored the Knights' second basket of the half, sparking a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 13, 57-44, with 6:05 remaining and that was as close as the Knights would get.
"We got a lot of solid play from several players," said McNelis. "Andrea Barber had a great floor game. She handled the ball well and kept our team under control, making good decision. Pauline Love played very well in the second half, cleaning the glass and dominating in every aspect. Stephanie Helgeson gave us some points in the first half, but stepped up big in the second half, scoring baskets and making defensive plays. Kendra Reed hit the outside shot when we needed it."
Southern Miss finished the game shooting 44.8 percent from the field, including 50 percent in the second half. The Lady Eagles also out rebounded the Knights, 43-35, and limited UCF to only 10 rebounds in the second half.
"Overall, we played out of control in the first half," McNelis said. "We didn't run out lanes properly. We made a lot of mental errors. During the first five minutes, it looked like this was our first game of the season. As poorly as we played in the first half, to have the lead at the half was huge. We made some defensive adjustments the second half and executed our game plan."
Southern Miss returns to action with a C-USA weekend series, traveling to Tulsa, Jan. 11 (7 p.m.) and to SMU, Jan. 13. The SMU game will be nationally televised on ESPN2 at 3 p.m.