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Lady Eagle Basketball Team Outlast SMU, 74-67

Niesha Pierce came up big in the second half, scoring 13 of her 15 points

Feb. 12, 2012

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DALLAS, Texas - Sophomore Jamierra Faulkner scored a career-high 28 points for Southern Miss and the Lady Eagles connected on 8-of-10 free throws in the final 26 seconds to stave off a SMU comeback for the 74-67 victory.

Southern Miss, winners of its last three games, improved to 9-15 overall and 3-8 in Conference USA play while SMU fell to 12-12 and 5-6.

"In the first half, our offense was generated through Jamierra (Faulkner) with Tanecka Carey scoring the ball," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "No doubt, they were the one-two. We tried to run plays to get Tanecka more three-point shots. We kept our composure and showed some resilient to go into half time with the lead.

"They made some defensive adjustments at the half that caused us some problems," said McNelis. "We didn't execute the plays we felt like would be effective against them. We got flat and frustrated. Then it was the play of Niesha Pierce that got us back in the game. She stepped up and made plays. She scored and even more importantly, she made two huge plays on defense in the final minute that seal the win."

Junior Tanecka Carey scored 19 points and Niesha Pierce added 15 for Southern Miss. Ance Celmina led USM a team-high 10 rebounds.

Alisha Filmore led four Mustangs with 20 points followed by Christine Elliott with 14, Brittney Hardy and Akil Simpson chipped in 10 points apiece.

Southern Miss led 66-65 with 1:05 remaining in the game when the Mustangs came up with a steal and Niesha Pierce came up with perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game when she blocked Filmore's shot and controlled the rebound. Faulkner then hit a pair of free throws to put USM up by three, 68-65. On the next possession, Niesha Pierce came up with another defensive stop with a steal before Carey was able to knock down a pair of free throws for the 70-65 lead. Nitesha Pierce then came up with a big rebound off a SMU miss and was fouled with 17 seconds remaining and converted her free throws. SMU got its final bucket when Sabrina McKinney went the length of the court for the score.

Southern Miss popped to a 4-0 lead before SMU used a 10-2 for the 10-6 lead. The Lady Eagles came right back when Carey hit one of her three triples to start a 10-2 run for the 16-12 lead. For the next two minutes, the two teams traded baskets and free throws before Carey kick-started another run for the Lady Eagles when she connected on a pair of free throws. Faulkner out ran the SMU defense for a layup and Niesha Pierce connected on a jumper to push the lead to 24-16. Raven Short and Faulkner traded three-pointers before Hardy got loose for a layup. Faulkner then fed Carey for the layup then followed with a steal and layup to push the Eagles' lead to 10, 31-21. After a Carey free throw, Hardy scored a basket before USM closed out the half with a 5-2 run for the 37-25 halftime lead.

Southern Miss held the rebounding edge, 34-31. For only the sixth time this season, USM scored more points off turnovers than its opponent. The Lady Eagles finished shooting 51.1 percent from the field, their third-straight over 50 percent.

Southern Miss is back in action on Thursday when the Lady Eagles host UCF on Feb. 16 at 7 p.m.

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