Southern Miss Burns UAB 64-59
Lady Eagles improve to 13-8 overall and 5-4 in C-USA play
Jan. 28, 2017
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss Women's Basketball team (13-8, 5-4) burnt UAB (10-10, 3-6) for a 64-59 win that came down to the final seconds on Kay James Day.
The game's deciding moments came with under 30 seconds to play. Southern Miss had the ball with 29.2 seconds left and 10 seconds on the shot clock. Jayla King caught the ball in the lane and drove to the basket. The ball was stolen by UAB's Deanna Kuzmanic in traffic and UAB called timeout. The Blazers, down by one point, would have an untimed possession with a chance to take the lead.
Coach Joye Lee-McNelis made a defensive substitution to bring in Keri Jewett-Giles for the close of regulation. Jewett-Giles read the UAB inbounds and intercepted the pass. She would take it coast-to-coast and was fouled on the finish. After an official review, the foul was upgraded to a flagrant and Jewett-Giles would head to the line and she sank both buckets.
"[Jewett-Giles] is one of our best on ball defenders," McNelis said. "Right at the end I almost made a switch [on who Jewett-Giles would guard] and I am so glad I didn't. It was a clean steal and she was able to get the basket and make the free throws."
Because of the flagrant, Southern Miss would get the ball back under the basket. Jewett-Giles, coming off of a screen, was fed by Shonte Hailes for a close two points, capping six points in 1.3 seconds and giving the Lady Eagles a 64-57 lead.
"Before that steal I was thinking, `I do not want to play 20 seconds of defense.'' Jewett-Giles said. "I had to get that steal. I've been working on [free throws] too, so I knew they'd come easy."
At the start of the game, the Blazers went up 7-2, eventually pushing their lead to more than 10 points, but Southern Miss orchestrated multiple defensive possessions that held UAB without a field goal for over four minutes, giving Southern Miss a chance to cut the lead.
The Lady Eagles would trail 40-33 at the intermission.
Coach McNelis got to the team at halftime and pushed the Lady Eagles to do better.
"She got on us [at halftime]," said Brittanny Dinkins. "As a head coach, her job is to demand it of us every single day. She gave us the option to either change it or to settle, and that's not something we do. We don't settle. There had to be a change of mentality and we did that."
The Lady Eagles would tie the ball game in the third and finally take the lead, 55-56, with 5:32 left in the game.
Dinkins and King would lead the Lady Eagle scoring effort with 16 each. Jewett-Giles scored 13 total points off the bench, Hailes and Megan Brown both had four, Lashyra Cotton registered five points and Brittny Norris and Respect Leaphart both tallied three points.
Alumni, former players and others gathered in a celebration of Kay James before the game to honor her induction to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. James was also recognized at halftime, surrounded by her former players and every current Southern Miss female athlete.
"There aren't words to describe how [Coach Kay James] has made a stamp on my life,' Dinkins said. "It's a privilege. I'm honored, thankful and humbled to be a part of this program at this moment on her day."
Southern Miss takes to the road and will face Marshall on Feb. 2 at 5:00 p.m. CT and Western Kentucky on Feb. 4 at 2:05 p.m. CT. Starting 30 minutes before tip, Lady Eagle fans can hear Josh West on the radio broadcast for the game on WFOR 1400 AM.