Jan. 11, 2008
TULSA, Okla. -- Tulsa's Larrissa Williams hit a jumper in the lane with 7.8 seconds remaining, helping Tulsa get past Southern Miss, 63-62, in Conference USA action Friday.
The Golden Hurricane (6-9, 2-0) held the Lady Eagles scoreless over the last 3:41 of the game, outscoring Southern Miss, 6-0, down the stretch.
"Our biggest struggle was that we didn't guard their post game very well," coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "They are very athletic and long and we could not guard them. They are much improved since we saw them in Cancun. Once we started to help with the post, their guards stepped up and hit threes in crunch time."
Pauline Love led the way for Southern Miss (10-5, 1-1) with 16 points, 14 in the second half, followed by Kendra Reed with 15 points.
Chanel Johnson led all scorers with a game-high 23 points, Larrissa Williams had 18 and Destanie Gardner chipped in 10 points for Tulsa.
"Down the stretch we did not execute," McNelis said. "Our effort was very good. I can not fault my team's effort at all. Defensively, we did a great job of defending their perimeter players when they were running their hand-off plays because that is their money plays. Where we got hurt was when our guards stepped in to help on those post players and we gave up those threes."
Both teams battled through out the first half. Southern Miss led by as many as five points, 18-13, at the 6:16 mark when TU used a 7-2 run, to tie the game at 20-20. The Lady Eagles quickly pushed their lead back to five, 25-20, behind a layup and three-pointer. But TU answered with six straight points to take its first lead since the 2-0 lead to start the game.
The half ended with Southern Miss ahead, 30-29.
Southern Miss opened the second half, scoring six-straight points. Tatum Beer, then, connected on a three-pointer, followed by back-to-back baskets by Williams and Johnson, giving TU a one-point lead, 36-35, at the 16;20 mark.
Southern Miss answered with a basket by Love basket, a three-pointer from Reed and Amber Eugene tacked on a free throw to give the Lady Eagles a 41-36, lead with 14:22 remaining.
Southern Miss was able to maintain the lead over the next 14:15, until Williams hit a shot with 7.8 seconds remaining. The Lady Eagles had several opportunities to add points, but missed their last two shots inside of two minutes, plus a one-and-one opportunity with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
Tulsa won the battle of the boards, 36-30. Both teams scored 26 points in the paint, but the Golden Hurricane got 20 points off 17 Lady Eagle turnovers. Southern Miss finished the game shooting 48.0 percent, including 52.2 percent in the second half.
Southern Miss returns to action Sunday when the Lady Eagles travel to Dallas, Texas, to play SMU in a nationally televised game on ESPN2 at 2 p.m.