HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team rallied from 18 down against East Carolina, but battled back to force overtime. In the extra period, tied 80-80, Tamara Jones' put back on a missed shot with 3.8 seconds on the clock proved to be the game-winner, giving the Lady Eagles an 82-80 victory over the Pirates.
Southern Miss improved to 14-5 overall and 3-3 in Conference USA while East Carolina fell to 16-3, 4-2. The win snapped a three-game skid.
"This young team has really battled and we've had some disappointments in those two overtime losses," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "They both hurt because we made some mistakes and missed some shots we should have made down the stretch, but I will tell you, this puts everything aside. We did everything we needed to do. This young group rallied back behind the will of Jamierra Faulkner.
"We had some players who didn't start the game playing well, but made comebacks," said McNelis. "We saw some flashes from Lashyra Cotton where she was able to get some big rebounds for us. What a huge play by Tamara Jones to keep the ball alive, grab the rebound and put it back for the score."
Jamierra Faulkner led all scorers with a career-high 39 points including 30 in the second half while Brittany Dinkins chipped in 13 points. Dinks, Lashyra Cotton and Tamara Jones each collected five rebounds. Faulkner also dished out five assists and had four steals.
Southern Miss trailed 39-57 with 10:17 remaining in regulation when Faulkner ignited a 15-2 run to cut the lead to 59-54. Over the 4:58, Faulkner accounted for 12 points including three-pointer and a steal and layup.
ECU's Abria Trice quickly answered to put the Pirates on top by seven again, 61-54, before Jerontay Clemons added a pair of free throws to keep the Lady Eagles within five points. However, Trice got free once again for another Pirate basket. Faulkner then hit two free throws then followed with a layup to get within 63-60. Out of a media timeout, Faulkner then hit a jumper in the paint to cut the Pirates' lea to one. East Carolina then connected on a short jumper by Kristine Mial before Shae Nelson banked in a three from straight away to put the Pirates up, 68-62, with 2:10 remaining. Faulkner answered with a basket before East Carolina made one-of-two free throws to push the margin to five, 69-64. Tamara Jones then hit a big three-pointer with 33 second remaining. Clemons then came up with a steal and Faulkner was able to tie the game on a layup with 17 seconds remaining. The Pirates' shot bounced off the rim and the Lady Eagles came up with a rebound to send the game into overtime.
East Carolina scored the first basket in the overtime period before Faulkner found Ashley Folsom underneath to tie game at 71-71. The teams traded baskets over before Faulkner put the Black and Gold ahead for the first time since 6:26 mark in the first half. East Carolina then got four-straight points to take a 79-77 lead before Dinkins nailed a three from the left corner to give the Lady Eagles an 80-79 advantage. ECU tied the game on a free-throw with 34 seconds remaining. Jones then corralled a missed Faulkner shot and put it against the glass for what proved to be the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Both teams struggled from the field to start the game as the teams combined for 22 points in the first 12 minutes of the game. After battling back and forth, East Carolina used 9-0 run in taking a 23-16 lead with 3:55 to go before the half. The Pirates took a 30-21 lead into intermission.
Jada Payne led East Carolina with 27 points while Abria Trice had 22 and Kristine Mial added 15 points. Ondrea Shaw pulled down a team-best 12 rebounds.
East Carolina held the rebounding edge, 50-37, and out-scored Southern Miss, 17-11, on second chance points.
Southern Miss remains at home when the Lady Eagles host the league leader Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, Jan. 29 in a 7 p.m. tip.
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