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Second Half Surge Propels Southern Miss Past Rice, 76-57

Ance Celmina recorded her second double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Jan. 27, 2013

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss outscored Rice 53-16 in the second half and Jamierra Faulkner and Ance Celmina each posted double-doubles in leading Southern Miss past Rice, 76-57, in Conference USA action on Sunday. The 53 second half points were the most in a half this season.

Southern Miss improved to 11-8 overall and 3-3 in league play while Rice dropped to 9-10 overall and 1-5.

"What a second half performance," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "You have to give credit to the two steals that Jamierra got to start the half. She got our wheels going and then everybody else just jumped on the bandwagon. Tanecka Carey finally hits a three-ball to keep it going. Ance Celmina gave us a big game today with her 17 points and 14 rebounds. We kept running sets for her and she was able to finish today. I thought out two seniors and Jamierra were spectacular today.

"You can't overlook the play of Jerontay Clemons facing up Jessica Kuster. She did a much better job on her in the second half. It was a total team effort. This was probably the best execution of our half-court offense this season. It's obvious because we didn't have a lot of turnovers today."

Faulkner led all scorers with a game-high 26 points while dishing out a career-high and school record tying 16 assists. Celmina added career highs in points and rebounds with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Tanecka Carey and Jerontay Clemons chipped in 14 and 13 points respectively.

The Lady Eagles trailed 41-23 at the half when Southern Miss used a 25-5 run over nine minutes to take a 48-46 lead. The teams traded baskets for the first five minutes before Clemons ignited 19-0 run over 3:46 when she connected on a pair of free throws. Faulkner followed with a layup from a steal before Carey connected on her first three of the game. Faulkner found Celmina underneath bucket and Carey connected on another three. Clemons put in a jumper from the left wing followed by a fastbreak layup by Faulkner from Pollnitz. Carey then added her third three to give Southern Miss its first lead since 12-11 in the first half.

Rice quickly tied the game at 48-48, but Carey hit her fourth three-pointer to give the Lady Eagles the lead for good at 51-48 with 10:05 remaining. Southern Miss then outscored Rice 25-7 for final 9:25 of the game.

Rice opened the game with a three before Southern Miss hit its first basket off a steal and layup by Clemons. Jessica Kuster put the Owls up 5-2 before the teams began trading baskets for the next 3:13. Rice then scored nine unanswered points in taking a 20-12 lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the half.

After a series of missed shots by both teams, Southern Miss finally got a basket from Tiarra Pollnitz to pull within 20-14 before Rice converted on a three-point play for a nine-point advantage. The Lady Eagles were able get the lead down to five before Rice's Breion Allen kicked started a 17-3 run over the final 4:51 with a three that had the Owls up 41-23 at the half.

Rice held the Lady Eagles to just 29.4 percent shooting in the first half while connecting on 47.1 percent from the field including 40 percent (4-10) from behind the arc.

Jessica Kuster led Rice with a team-best 15 points while Megan Palmer just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds. Breion Allen came off the bench to net 10 points.

Southern Miss scored 30 points off 22 Rice turnovers and outscored Rice 44-24 in the paint.

The Lady Eagles will hit the road for the third time in four games when Southern Miss travels to UAB for a Thursday night matchup at Bartow Arena. Tip time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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