Jan. 17, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team lost for the second time in as many games as SMU defeated the Lady Eagles 79-69 in Conference USA action Thursday night in Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss dropped to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in league play while SMU improved to 12-4 and 3-0.
"We got off to a great start, but at the 15-minute mark, here they come rolling and we just lose that focus," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We got into shooting jump shots instead of attacking the rim and we settled for that. They scored some easy baskets because our transition defense did get back and that got them rolling. In the second half, I thought we played deceit spurts, but when you put five players in double figures, it pretty tough to win that game. SMU is a very good shooting basketball team and you have to give them credit for that."
Jamierra Faulkner led the Black and Gold with a game-high 24 points to go with six assists and five rebounds while Nitesha Pierce scored a season-high 17 points while playing a season-high 33 minutes and Ance Celmina added 11 points.
Southern Miss bolted out to the early 9-3 lead before SMU roared back using a 17-0 run in taking a 20-11 lead over a span of 5:21. For the remainder of the half, the Lady Eagles had to play from behind. SMU was able to keep a double digit lead until Celmina connected on three straight baskets to cut the lead to 24-19.
The Black and Gold continued to chip away at the Mustang lead and outscored the visitors 5-2 in cutting the lead to two, 26-24, before SMU scored 11 unanswered points in pushing its lead to 37-24 in just under two minutes. For the remainder of the half, the teams traded baskets as the Mustangs led 43-31 at the half.
SMU eventually built as many as a 15-point lead only four minutes into the second half, 50-35, before using a 12-5 run to get the lead under 10, 55-47 at the 11:47 mark. SMU added a pair of baskets before Pierce connected a back-to-back field goals to keep the Lady Eagles within striking distance at 59-51.
From there, SMU pushed its lead to 67-53 before Tanecka Carey hit a three and Pierce followed with a jumper to get the lead under double digits, 67-58. SMU answered with a 9-3 run for the 76-61 with 2:14 remaining. The home team could not overcome that deficit as the Lady Eagles lost 79-69.
SMU placed five players in double figure scoring led by Destynee Hives-McCray with 22 points and 10 rebounds, Korina Baker and Gabrielle Wilkins had 14 points apiece, Alisha Filmore had 13 and Keena Mays chipped in 10.
Southern Miss held a rebounding edge, 41-37, but SMU added 14 fast break points to two by Southern Miss.
Southern Miss will travel to Orlando, Fla., to face UCF on Sunday in a 1 p.m. tip.
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