Nov. 25, 2011
"A great way to describe Jacksonville State is pesky and never giving up," head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We went on a 7-0 to start the half and I tell you what, they cranked it up and came back after us. They totally dominated through the first media timeout. It was nip-and-tuck and we did not play in any type of rhythm. We took some ill-advised shots and our decision making was very poor. All but two of their points in the first half came off offensive rebounds and turnovers."
Tanecka Carey led all scorers with a game-high 22 points for the Lady Eagles followed by Nitesha Pierce with 16 points to go with a team-high 11 rebounds. Jamierra Faulkner chipped in 14 points and dished out eight assists and had five steals.
Brittany Manning and Danielle Vaughn led Jacksonville State with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Vaughn also pulled 11 rebounds.
After JSU scored the first two points of the game, Southern Miss responded with a 9-0 run for a 9-2 lead. The Gamecocks fought back to take a one-point lead 10-9, scoring eight unanswered points. The two teams battle for the remainder of the half. JSU enjoyed a 23-17 lead at the 5:55 mark when USM finished the half strong with a 12-4 to go into the half with a 29-27 lead.
"We came out in the second half and really challenged out team to be able to make a stand," McNelis said. "We didn't start it to begin with but about the 12-minute mark, it all cranked up and you go to see what we want this team to become. There's no doubt that our full-court pressure defense and our defense in general gave us some opportunities to get some easy baskets."
The second half started with both teams battling early. Jacksonville State managed to get the score down to 39-38 before the Lady Eagles ripped off 12 unanswered sparked by a Carey three-ball. Faulkner then scored three straight layups before Danielle Johnson capped the run with a three-pointer.
The lead eventually swelled to 20 points 65-45 with just under five minutes remaining. JSU cut the lead to 12 as Carolyn Taite initiated 8-0 run. That was as close as the Gamecocks would get. Southern Miss finished with 52 points in the paint, 30 points off 26 JSU turnovers and grabbed 53 rebounds.
Southern Miss will face an undefeated Stephen F. Austin in the championship game at 7 p.m., on Saturday.
In the earlier game, Stephen F. Austin defeated Georgia Southern, 49-40, as nine different scored at least three or more points. Tammara Marion led the Ladyjacks with nine points. Janay Wilson and Meredyth Frye led the Eagles with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Georgia Southern will play Jacksonville State at 11 a.m. in the consolation game.
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