HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team rallied from a 17-point second half deficit while shooting 58.6 percent from the field in defeating Florida Gulf Coast by a score of 76-74 Saturday night.
"This is the first game that we have been able to suit up every player," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "And because of the depth, we were able to make that comeback. We were able to sub players in and out. We got into foul trouble and I thought the bench responded well.
"We were able to keep Jerontay, Alex, Brittanny and Jamierra rotation fresh," McNelis said. "Our full court defense was the key to our win. We have to be able to defend
Five Lady Eagles scored in double figures led by senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner with a double-double of 17 points and 12 assists. Freshman Brittanny Dinkins scored 12 points followed by Tamara Jones, Jerontay Clemons and Kierra Jordan all with 11 points apiece.
Faulkner moved past Joye (Lee) McNelis into eighth-place on the all-time scoring list.
FGUC opened the second half with a 15-8 run to push the lead to 56-37 with 12:55 remaining the game. Jordan kick started a 10-2 run to get the lead under double digits, 58-49. Faulkner found Jordan underneath before Dinkins got loose for a layup. This time Faulkner found Clemons on the fast break for the easy two. Jones who spent most of the first half on the bench in foul trouble scored on a pair of buckets to get the lead down to single digits.
After a pair of FGCU free throws, Southern Miss went on a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 62-60 at the 5:09 mark. The Eagles connected on two free throws for the 64-60 lead. Jordan's free throw cut the lead to three before Stephanie Haas went the length of the court for a basket to give FGCU a five-point advantage, 66-61 with 3:25 remaining. On the Eagles' next possession, Dinkins connected on a three from deep in the corner, but Haas struck again with a driving layup for the 68-64. Faulkner then connected on a three from the top of the paint before Haas hit another basket with 1:49 remaining for the 70-67 lead.
After a 30 second timeout, Clemons ignited a 9-2 run over the final 1:32 in helping the complete the comeback. Clemons hit a baseline jumper before Dinkins came up with a steal and passed to Clemons for the layup. Dinkins got another steal and this time hit Jordan underneath for a three-point play that gave Southern Miss its first lead since the 6:48 mark in the first half. Stephanie Hansen then hit a jumper in the paint to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. Southern Miss ran the clock to less than 10 seconds before Faulkner hit Jordan in the paint for the basket and a 76-74 lead. FGCU could not get a shot off before the final horn.
FGCU used a 19-6 run over the final 6:48 in the first half to take a 42-11 lead into halftime.
Hansen led all scorers with a game-high 24 points while Haas added 20 more for FGCU. Jenna Cobb chipped in 10 for the Eagles.
Southern Miss held a 41-35 rebounding edge.
Southern Miss returns to the court for the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 29-30 that included Mississippi Valley State, Eastern Kentucky and Florida A&M. Action begins on Friday with Southern Miss taking on Mississippi Valley at 5 p.m., followed Eastern Kentucky and Florida A&M at 7:30. The consolation game is set for 2 p.m. and the championship game at 4:30 on Saturday.
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