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Women's Basketball Comes Up Short, Falls to South Alabama 69-67

Freshman Jerontay Clemons scored 21 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds

Nov. 16, 2012

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MOBILE, Ala. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team comeback came up short as the Lady Eagles fell to South Alabama 69-67 Friday night in the Mitchell Center.

"We didn't even look like the same team a week ago," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "Our team had grown up a lot in one week. The effort was unbelievable this week, particularly the last two days. The only things that hurt us tonight was not keeping them off the glass and not closing out in crunch time."

Junior Jamierra Faulkner led all scorers with a game-high 23 points while freshman Jerontay Clemons added 21 points. Clemons also hauled in a team-best nine rebounds in 40 minutes of play.

"We missed a ton of layups," McNelis said. "We had every opportunity to win this game. If we don't give up 22 offensive rebounds. But late in the game, we had Tiarra Pollnitz and Ance Celmina come up with three big rebounds. We have to have that consistently. And Jerontay Clemons was the star tonight. We thought that ball was going in. South Alabama is a good team and they don't lose much in the Mitchell Center."

Southern Miss (0-2) finished the game shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 66.7 percent from the line, but South Alabama (3-0) came up with 15 second chance points off 22 offensive rebounds.

South Alabama led 40-33 at the 18:16 mark when the Lady Eagles used a 10-2 run over a five-minute span to take a 43-42 lead, but the Jaguars connected on a three to kick start a 7-0 run that put USA up 49-43. Southern Miss came right back to cut the lead to 49-48 on back-to-back baskets by Faulkner that included a three-point play.

The teams traded baskets over the next three minutes until the Jaguars got a basket and free throw for the five point lead, 55-50, at the 7:21 mark. Faulkner canned a three to get within 55-53, before South Alabama added three free throws to push ahead 58-53. Southern Miss got within one as Clemons hit a pair of free throws followed by a Tiarra Pollnitz basket and two Ance Celmina free throws.

South Alabama took a 69-65 lead at the 1:21 mark before Faulkner was able to hit a layup to cut the lead to 69-67. The Jaguars went to the line with six sevens to remaining in the game and missed both free throws before Clemons grabbed the rebound and went the length of the court and put up a shot in the paint that rolled off the rim as time expired.

Southern Miss sprinted out to a 7-2 over the first three minutes of the game. South Alabama came back to cut the lead to 7-6 before the team began trading baskets over the next five minutes. The Lady Eagles then reeled off seven straight points to take an 18-10 lead at the 9:56 mark. USA then outscored the Lady Eagles 17-2 over 4:35 in taking a 27-20 lead. USM got a basket from Nitesha Pierce and a pair of free throws from Faulkner to cut the score to, 27-24. South Alabama pushed its lead to eight, 34-26, before the Lady Eagles was able to get the score to 36-32 at the half. USM finished the half shooting 52 percent from the field.

Mary Nixon led South Alabama with 20 points followed by Brianna Wright with 12, Meghan Dunn had 11 and Ronneka Robertson chipped in 10. Veronica Cherzol pulled down 10 rebounds.

Southern Miss returns to action when the Lady Eagles host their annual Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 23-24 with McNeese State, Savannah State and Talladega College. Action begins on Friday at 5 p.m. when the Lady Eagles play Savannah State followed by McNeese State and Talladega at 7:30 p.m.

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