EL PASO, Texas - Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Jamierra Faulkner lit it up offensively, knocking down 22 of her 26 points in the second half, to spark a come-from-behind win by second-seed Southern Miss (26-5) over host and third-seeded UTEP (24-7), 84-70, in the 2014 Conference USA Women's Basketball Championship semifinals at Don Haskins Center Friday afternoon.
With the win, Southern Miss extends its league-best win streak to 13 games and will face top-seeded and No. 20/22 Middle Tennessee (28-4) at 6 p.m. MDT Saturday on the CBS Sports Network. The matchup marks just the fourth time in the 19-year history of the league that one and two will square off in the championship game.
Faulkner led all players in scoring with 26 points, including 22 in the second frame, and tied for a game-best eight boards. The senior point guard also dished out seven assists to become C-USA's career assists leader with 854, passing Louisville's Sara Nord (852).
USM was buoyed by double-digit performances from Jerontay Clemons (17) and Tamara Jones, netting 17 and 13 points, respectively. After shooting 43.8-percent (14-32) from the field in the first half, the Eagles upped their numbers to 51.9-percent (14-27) to lead their second-half surge.
UTEP was led by senior forward Kayla Thornton's 21 points. Junior Stacie Telles (13), junior Chrishuana Parker (12) and senior Kristine Vitola (11) also contributed with double-figure afternoons.
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