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Second Half Rally Aids Lady Eagles in 56-51 Come-From-Behind Victory over Tulane

Niesha Pierce triggers 16-2 run

Feb. 19, 2012

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team rallied from 16 points down in the second half, outscoring Tulane 41-28 in the final 20 minutes for a 56-51 victory Sunday afternoon in Reed Green Coliseum.

The Lady Eagles improved to 10-16 overall and 4-9 in C-USA play while Tulane dropped to 19-7 and 8-5.

"Our motto going into the game today was `fight a battle," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "That's what this team did in the final eight minutes. It's hard to imagine that you score 28 points in the first 32 minutes then you score 28 points the final eight. Jamierra Faulkner, no doubt, was the catalyst. But I also think that Niesha Pierce's three-ball kind of generated that energy and then Jamierra caught hold and really dominated. I'm very proud of them."

Sophomore point guard Jamierra Faulkner led all scorers with a game-high 19 points, including 17 in the second half, for USM while Niesha Pierce added 16 points. Nitesha Pierce and Ance Celmina both pulled down eight rebounds.

Danielle Blagg came off the bench to lead Tulane with 13 points and Brett Benzio added 12 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

"Tulane is a very good basketball team and they are very well coached," McNelis said. "They're just good and for us to come back after being down against a very good team, says a lot. It looked like we were dead in the water. We didn't have a lot of energy or a lot of life. At one point in the first half, we were shooting 10 percent but finished the shooting 21 percent at halftime. We start the second half 0-for-7, so now we're back under 20 percent. You don't win games when you can't put it in the basket. Once again, I think Niesha three-ball triggered it and Jamierra went to work."

With 10:19 remaining in the game and trailing 37-23, Southern Miss outscored Tulane 25-5 over a span of 6:52 to take its first lead since the 2-0 lead to start the game. Faulkner ignited the run with a layup before Adesuwa Ebomwonyi hit one-of-two free throws. Faulkner then penetrated from the baseline and got all the way to the basket for another layup before Sedreka Plummer hit one-of-two from the line to cut the lead to 38-28. Faulkner then hit a jumper at the free throw line to get the margin under 10.

After a pair of Danielle Blagg free throws for Tulane, USM then countered with a 16-2 run that saw a 10-point Green Wave lead turn into a six-point lead for the Lady Eagles. Niesha Pierce got things started with a three-ball followed by Plummer bucket underneath. Faulkner then hit a three before Ance Celmina came up with a steal and flipped the ball out to Tanecka Carey for a layup to tie the game at 40-40. Olivia Grayson then went the length of the court to score a layup to put Tulane back on top by two. Faulkner then hit back-to-back threes and Pierce capped off the run with a pair of free throws to give the Black and Gold a 48-42 lead at the 3:05 mark.

Kaplan converted a three-point play to get the score to 48-45 before Piece hit another pair from the charity stripe and Carey hit a jumper just inside the paint then connected on one-of-two from the line to push the lead to 32-45 with 48 seconds remaining. Tulane did not go away as Blagg got free for a three. Carey then missed two free throws before Grayson found Blagg open again deep in the corner for another triple and cutting the lead to 53-51 with 17 seconds to play. Southern Miss then converted 3-of-4 in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.

Both teams struggled to score over the first 12 minutes of the game battling to 6-6 game with 7:57 remaining in the half. At that point, Southern Miss was 2-of-20 from the field and Tulane was just 3-of-19. After the third media timeout, the teams traded buckets before Tulane scored seven unanswered points for the 13-8 lead. The teams traded baskets before the Green Wave scored six-straight for their first double-digit lead, 23-12. Niesha Pierce was able to get the lead under 10 with a three-pointer as Tulane led 23-15 at the half.

Tulane edged the Golden Eagles on the board, 37-35. Southern Miss outscored the Green Wave, 14-2 on second chance points.

Southern Miss will play its third game at home when Marshall visits Reed Green Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.

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