HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team placed had three players score 20 or more points in running past South Alabama, 93-68, in non-conference action Tuesday night.
"We got off to a great start because our pressure defense was very effective," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We got in a little foul trouble and had to pull it off. After that we weren't able to get the ball and go, but we were able to maintain what our pressure defense created.
"You have to give South Alabama credit because they took advantage of opportunities of us not guarding with our feet rather than guarding with our hands," said McNelis.
Senior Jamierra Faulkner led the way with a game-high 27 points and 12 assists in recording her first double-double of the season, junior Tamara Jones added 23 points and 14 rebounds with all 23 points coming in the second as well as 12 rebounds. Freshman Ashley Folsom finished with 23 points and five blocks.
"We started the second half like we were asleep," McNelis said. "We were fired up in the locker room. We talked to them about a three-ball shooting team that you have to play them like the game was tied. They converted several three-pointers. When the score was 64-60, we had to overplay the passing lanes and gets come steals and easy buckets. That was the turning point."
Southern Miss led 49-34 at the half when South Alabama used a 28-16 run to cut the Lady Eagle led to 64-60 over a nine minute span. From there, Southern Miss scored 19 unanswered points in taking control for the remainder of the game. Jones ignited the scoring spree tossing in the first six points. Folsom followed with a three-point play before Alex Coyne took a steal the length of the court for a bucket. Jones and Folsom combined for the next six points before Faulkner put the finishing touches with a 15-footer.
"I thought Jamierra did a phenomenal job of running the offense and being patient with ball offensively," McNelis said. "Another freshman steps up in Ashley Folsom and has a big night. Then there is Tamara Jones. She was awful in the first half, but the second half it was the Tamara Jones show."
The Lady Eagles finished the game shooting 56.7 percent from the field including 62.5 percent in the first half. Southern Miss scored 39 points off 25 USA turnovers and had 14 second chance points.
Southern Miss took control early as the Lady Eagles ran out to a 14-2 lead. The home team pushed its lead to 17-4 before the Jaguars scored five straight points to get the lead under double digits. The teams began trading baskets over three minutes. South Alabama cut the lead to 25-18 with 8:56 remaining before the half, but the Faulkner scored the next five points and Brittanny Dinkins added a basket to put USM up 32-18.
Southern Miss held a 36-34 rebounding edge over South Alabama.
Four Jaguars scored in double figures for South Alabama with Meghan Dunn and Ronneka Robertson leading the way with 18 points each. Breanna Hall had 13 and Rachel Cumbo chipped in 10. Dunn also dished out six assists.
Southern Miss hits the road for the first time this season when the Lady Eagles travel to Hampton for a Saturday game with a 1 p.m. (CT) tip.
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