March 13, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - The guard tandem of Jamierra Faulkner and Jerontay Clemons combined for 47 points and the Golden Eagles shot 61.3 percent from the field in the second half as 10th-seeded Southern Miss defeated No. 7 seed Memphis, 67-58, to wrap up day one of the 2013 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship Wednesday evening at the Tulsa Convention Center.
Faulkner scored a game-high 28 points and Clemons had 18 of her 19 after the break to help the Golden Eagles overcome a 10-point second-half deficit. After hitting just 7-of-28 field goals in the first half (.250), Southern Miss hit 19-of-31 tries in the second stanza to finish with a .441 clip (26-of-59). The defense, meanwhile, held Memphis to a 34.3 field goal percentage (24-of-70), including a 3-of-20 performance from beyond the 3-point arc (.150).
With the win, the Golden Eagles improve to 15-15 on the year and advance to take on second-seeded East Carolina in Thursday's quarterfinals. Tipoff for that game is slated for 7:30 p.m. CDT. Memphis, meanwhile, falls to 17-14 overall and will wait word of its postseason fate when the selection committees announce their respective fields early next week.
Trailing 32-22 less than two minutes into the second half, Southern Miss went on a 21-10 run over a span of 8:19 to take a 43-42 lead it would not relinquish. The Eagles 53-42 with 6:00 left in regulation, but Memphis refused to go away quietly and cut the deficit to five at 58-53 just over three minutes later. Southern Miss responded with a 6-0 run to put the game away.
The Golden Eagles held a 49-34 rebounding advantage, turned 16 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points and out-scored the Tigers in the paint, 44-36. Nitesha Pierce came off the bench to lead Southern Miss with 13 rebounds and had the team's lone block. Faulkner headlined the squad with six assists and three steals. Clemons, meanwhile, finished with nine rebounds to fall one board shy of a double-double.
The two teams traded the first 26 points of the ballgame and Memphis' Lauren McGraw broke the deadlock with an and-one free throw with 7:40 to play before halftime. Her layup and freebie sparked a 9-0 Tigers' run, and following a layup by Pierce, Memphis scored six straight points to lead by as many as 11 at 26-15 with 1:36 to go before the break. Faulkner, however, drained a 3-pointer and a jumper final 34 seconds of the half to make 26-20 at the half and set up the Golden Eagles' second-half surge.
Ariel Hearn led Memphis with 20 points while Nicole Dickson added 12 to go with a team-best three steals. Jamila Ajanuka pulled down a team-leading 10 rebounds and shared team-high assists honors with Dickson and Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir at three each.
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