Feb. 2, 2012
"This team has continued to work extremely hard and this is the fruits of their labor," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We had to find ways to win games and that what we did tonight. We gutted it out. Our execution coming out of times and from our bench was better tonight. I thought our focus and concentration were the keys."
Jamierra Faulkner led the way for Southern Miss (7-15, 1-8) with a team-game 20 points to go with 11 assists two blocks and two steals. Tanecka Carey turned in her best performance in conference play with 17 points and five rebounds while Nitesha Pierce added 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line. She also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Four Memphis (16-5, 6-2) players scored in double figures led by Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir with 11 followed by Jasmine Lee, Nicole Dickson and Krishunda Harvey all scoring 10 points apiece. Harvey also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Memphis jumped on top 5-0 before Faulkner scored the first points for Southern Miss. The teams traded baskets on consecutive possessions before Memphis used a 10-2 run to go by 11, 17-6 at the 12:44 mark in the half. Over the next 6:40, the Lady Eagles outscored the Tigers, 13-3, to cut the lead to 20-19. Faulkner started the run with a three followed by a Niesha Pierce layup. Nitesha Pierce converted a three-point play and Carey hit one of two foul shots. Nitesha Pierce grabbed an offensive rebound for the put back and Carey finished the run on a driving layup from Faulkner.
Memphis' Lauren McGraw banked in a three to push the lead to 23-19 at the 4:40 mark before Faulkner hit a pair of three throws, hit a jumper just inside the arc to tie the game and then gave the Lady Eagles their first lead on a short jumper in the paint. The lead did not last long as Dickson nailed a deep three to give the Tigers a 26-25 half time lead.
Abdul-Qaadir opened the scoring for Memphis to start the half. USM answered with a fastbreak from Ance Celmina and Faulkner added a bucket off a steal to put the Eagles up 29-28. The lead would change hands two more times before Carey drained the first of four-straight threes. Harvey had a put back followed by a Lee free throw and a basket in giving Memphis the 36-34 lead.
USM scored nine unanswered points, all from Carey from behind the arc to push the Golden Eagle lead to 43-36. Memphis cut the lead to three, but Southern Miss got four points from Sedreka Plummer and Nitesha Pierce. After the Tigers went 3-for-4 from the line, Southern Miss scored five straight in running the score to 52-43 with 5:00 remaining in the game.
The Lady Eagles eventually pushed the lead to double digits, 56-45, but just as quick Memphis cut into the lead with back-to-back threes from Dickson and Abdul-Qaadir and added a layup from Danay Collier to get within three, 56-53. Faulkner then got loose for a layup and Niesha Pierce added a bucket with the 1:00 mark to put USM up by seven, 60-53. Dickson added the final point for Memphis from the line while Nitesha Pierce wrapped the scoring for Southern Miss with two free throws for the final score of 62-54.
The Lady Eagles edged the Tigers in rebounding, 45-43. Memphis got 28 points off a season-high 32 USM turnovers that included 19 Tiger steals. Southern Miss finished the game shooting 50 percent including 71.4 percent the second half.
Southern Miss returns home to host East Carolina on Sunday, Feb. 5, in a 2 p.m. tipoff.
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