EL PASO, Texas - For the second-straight game, Southern Miss dropped a Conference USA game in overtime, falling to UTEP 86-85 on Wednesday night.
Southern Miss falls to 13-5 overall and 2-3 in league play while UTEP improves to 14-4 and 3-2.
"Big time players make big time plays," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "When you look at the overall game, defensively in the first half we executed our game plan that was absolutely phenomenal. Second half, the defense gets away from us with a lack of leadership. They went to work against our zone and we had a lot of mismatches. They did a great job of taking advantage of every mismatch opportunity."
The Miners closed out the final eight minutes with a 24-13 run to tie the game in regulation. Most of the damage came from UTEP's offensive rebounding as the Miners scored 22 second chance points. UTEP also got 25 points off 22 USM turnovers.
Jerontay Clemons led the Lady Eagles with 21 points while Jamierra Faulkner and Kierra Jordan score 15 points and Brittanny Dinkins chipped in 11 points. Jordan also pulled down a team-best seven rebounds.
Southern Miss opened the game jumping out to a 7-1 before UTEP scored seven straight points in taking an 8-7 lead. From there, Southern Miss went on a 10-0 run for a 17-8 lead. The Lady Eagles held UTEP to 21.4 percent shooting from the field while shooting 51.9 percent in taking a 37-18 halftime lead.
After UTEP scored the first two points to start the second half before Alex Coyne answered with a three-pointer and fast break layup for a 42-20 lead. UTEP got a pair of free throws and the Lady Eagles took their largest lead of the game off a three-pointer by Dinkins to give Southern Miss a 45-22 lead. From there, UTEP began chipping away at the lead and over a span of 4:10, UTEP cut the lead to 50-38 using a 16-4 run.
Southern Miss regrouped using an 8-2 run to push the lead to 58-42 with 10:06 remaining. UTEP answered with a 10-2 run to get the lead under double figures for the first time since the first half. After a pair of free throws from Jordan and a free throw from Clemons, Southern Miss held a 63-52 lead with 8:19 remaining. The Miners then outscored Southern Miss 15-9 to cut the lead to five, 72-67. Faulkner got free for a layup to give Southern Miss a seven-point advantage with 2:33 remaining in regulation. Over the final 2:19, UTEP outscored the Lady Eagles 9-2 to send the game into overtime as Chrishauna Parker tied the game on a pair of free throws. Southern Miss had a chance to win the game, but a Dinkins three points bounced off the rim.
Southern Miss fell behind in the overtime period by as many as five, 85-80. Faulkner hit a three-pointer and followed by a layup to tie the game at 85-85. Kayla Thornton then hit one-of-two from the line to give UTEP an 86-85 lead with 9.9 second remaining. However, the Lady Eagles did not get a shot off after turning the ball over in the lane.
The Lady Eagles finished the game shooting 50.9 percent but only 68.6 percent from the line.
UTET's Thornton led all scorers with a game-high 26 points while Parker added a double-double with 21 points and 16 rebounds.
Southern Miss returns home to host East Carolina in a 4 p.m. tip for Military Appreciation Day.
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