Nov. 16, 2007
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- -
Southern Miss won its third straight game to open the season for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign, as the Lady Eagles defeated Mercer, 82-48, Friday night at Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss has now scored at least 80 points in three straight games for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
Two Lady Eagles recorded double-doubles. Pauline Love earned her third consecutive double-double, scoring 22 points while pulling down 14 rebounds. Amber Eugene scored 19 points and handled 11 rebounds. Senior Liz Biland added 12 points. All nine Lady Eagles scored in the contest.
Southern Miss forced 23 turnovers in the game, which they turned into 27 points. They also outrebounded Mercer, 56-39.
"I thought we made tremendous strides in the first with our on-ball defense and guarding the basketball," head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "I believe our first half was as good as we can do at this point in the season. We did a good job of guarding the dribble and got up and guarded the three. I thought our defense began to take its identity in the first half and I believe that was the reason why we went into the half with such a big lead."
Southern Miss jumped out to an early 19-2 advantage, pacing the way to a 35-19 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles led by as many as 22 (32-10) in the first half, but Mercer cut into the lead when the Bears outscored the Eagles 7-3 over two minutes. Southern Miss held the Bears to just 22.6% on 7-31 shooting from the field. Love scored 11 first half points while pulling down nine rebounds.
"Our denying the entry pass was huge tonight," McNelis said. "I thought Kendra Reed did a nice job on Shaquita Bella and Pauline did a good job on Sarah Russell. When you can hold their top two scorers to six and three points, a lot of credit goes to Reed and Love in the first half."
The Lady Eagles pulled away in the second half, outscoring Mercer, 47-29. Southern Miss improved its shooting percentage in the second half, shooting 56.7 percent as compared to 33.3 percent in the first half.
"Our game plan was to deny the pass and try to get steals to start our transition offense," Eugene said. "Rebounding is something we work on in practice."
LaToya Jackson paced the Bears with 11 points. Cristin Seymour and Shakeda Richie scored eight points apiece.
Southern Miss continues its homestand next Tuesday (Nov. 20) as part of a men's/women's doubleheader. The Lady Eagles will face cross-town rival William Carey