HOUSTON, Texas - The Southern Miss women's basketball team weathered bouts of cold shooting in the second half, but was able to hold off a furious comeback attempt by Rice in a 74-58 victory Saturday afternoon.
Southern Miss improved to 15-5 and 4-3 in Conference USA play while Rice dropped to 10-11 and 3-5.
Sophomore Jerontay Clemons led the way for the Lady Eagles with 15 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Jamierra Faulkner and Voche' Martin added 12 points apiece. Faulkner also dished out five assists and came up with three steals.
Southern Miss opened the second half with a 14-2 run in pushing the lead to 52-25. From there, the Lady Eagles hit a cold shooting period that allowed Rice to chip away that the lead. Rice used a 19-4 run over 6:07 to cut the lead to 12, 56-44 with 6:56 remaining in the game. The Owls eventually got the margin below double-digits using a 9-4 outburst.
For the final three minutes of the half, Southern Miss connected on 10-of-10 from the free line and added a Clemons basket with 23 seconds remaining to give Southern Miss a 74-57 lead.
The two teams battled to a 16-16 tied in the first 7:08. The Lady Eagles then used a 19-5 run over a span 8:49 in taking a 35-21 lead with 2:29 remaining before the half. Southern Miss held a 17-0 advantage of points off turnovers.
Rice's Jessica Kuster led all scorers with a game-high 29 points to go with 12 rebounds. Christal Porter added 13 points.
Southern Miss will now return home to host league leader No. 25 Middle Tennessee in a re-schedule matchup on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.
Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis Quotes
"It was a great road win for us today. I felt like we played really solid for 30 minutes of basketball. Our defensive intensity no doubt was the key to help get this victory."
"The thing we have to change is the lull that we have halfway through the second half. We've got to solve that then our team will continue to make strides."
"As a staff the most important thing for us is that with each day in practice and each game we get better. Now we have to make the next step get it from a 30-minute and be able to peak at the right time."
"I'm really proud of several different players that really stepped up. I thought a lot of different players did some good things for us. Jerontay Clemons led us in rebounding and was really solid on both ends of the floor. Jamierra Faulkner's leadership was very solid. She did score as much as she wanted as she normally does, but other than a trip here and there, she stayed very poised and really led this team. Voche' Martin shot the ball very well for us. Brittanny Dinkins hit some big shots for us."
"Probably the biggest shots that were made for us were our free throws that we made down the stretch. It was several different players who made them. I think it was truly a team effort and we got better as a team. Now, we just have to focus on making the next step."
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