Nov. 23, 2012
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The freshman tandem of Jerontay Clemons and Tiarra Pollnitz combined for 31 points and 10 steals in leading Southern Miss to its first win of the season with a 51-38 win over Savannah State in the first game of the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic Friday evening.
Clemons led the way with 16 points followed by Pollnitz with 15 and Tanecka Carey chipped in 10. Clemons also pulled down a team-best eight rebounds.
"We got off to such a slow start because of the inconsistence in our veteran players," head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "Jerontay Clemons got this team going with her energy level. She was diving on the floor at loose balls and it got everyone else going as well. I thought she was the reason why we got back into the game."
Both teams started out slow before Savannah State hit a pair of free throws before USM tied the game on a Caron Brown basket. From there, Savannah State reeled off the next 14 points in taking a 16-2 lead. USM was held scoreless for a span of 7:49 before Carey broke the drought with a three-pointer at the 9:06 mark that ignited a 12-0 run to cut the lead to 16-14 at the 4:11 mark in the half. SSU connected on two free throws to push its lead to 18-14. Southern Miss ended the half using a 6-0 to take a 20-18 lead into intermission.
"We have to have effort and execution together in order for us to continue to be successful," McNelis said. "
Southern Miss opened the second half scoring the first nine points in pushing the lead to 28-18 before SSU's Jasmine Kirkland connected on a basket to end the Lady Eagle run. The teams traded baskets for the next four minutes before the Tigers scored six straight points to get within 35-30.
Clemons and Pollnitz then outscored the Tigers 8-2 over the next four minutes to push the lead to 41-30 with 6:38 remaining. Savannah State got a basket and three-pointer in cutting the lead to six, 43-37, with 3:38 remaining, but Southern Miss closed out the game with an 8-1 run for the 51-38 win.
Savannah State did not have a player in double-digit points as Ezinne Kalu was the top scorer with nine points. Erin Houge hauled down 16 rebounds and Andrietta Thomas added another 10 rebounds for the visitors.
The Lady Eagles forced the Tigers into 34 turnovers with 18 coming on steals. USM scored 23 points off the miscues.
Southern Miss will play the winner of McNeese State and Talladega College in the championship game at 4:30 Saturday.
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