HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team took control early behind the one-two punch of Brittany Dinkins and Jamierra Faulkner as the Lady Eagles downed Mississippi Valley State 76-61 in the opening game of the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic Friday evening.
"This was not a pretty game at all," head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We played in spurts. We would make a run and Valley would make a run. We had a few more runs to score some buckets. I was disappointed in how we defended tonight. We had to make a few adjustments at the half, but when our defense was good, it was really good and created opportunities for us to score some baskets. We had a balanced attack."
Tamara Jones led the Lady Eagles with a game-high 19 points while Brittanny Dinkins scored 18 points and Jamierra Faulkner added a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists. Kierra Jordan came off the bench to grab nine rebounds
Southern Miss (5-1) used an 11-2 run over a three-minute span to take control with six minutes into the second half. Kierra Jordan kick started the 11-2 run with a put back off an offensive. Faulkner then hit Jones for a driving layup. Jones got an offensive rebound and put back and added a free throw. Dinkins was on the receiving pass from Faulkner to hit a layup before Jones capped off the run with a layup. The Lady Eagles eventually pushed the lead to 21 points late in the half.
Southern Miss ran out to a 9-1 lead to start the game and never looked back. MVSU connected a three-pointer before the Lady Eagles hit back-to-back threes by Dinks and Faulkner. DeRita Silas answered with a three before Tamara Jones' triple ignited a 15-6 run to push the lead to 30-13. Over the next eight minutes, the Devilettes outscored Southern Miss 16-6 to get the lead under double digits, 36-29. The Lady Eagles led 39-31 at the half on 40 percent shooting from the field.
Southern Miss scored 44 points in the paint and added 20 points off turnovers. The Lady Eagles also held the rebounding edge, 47-41. Southern Miss also connected on seven three-pointers.
DeRita Silas led Mississippi Valley (0-6) with 14 points off the bench while Olivia Kennedy added 12 and Ashley Beals chipped in 11. Jasmyne Sanders pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.
The Lady Eagles will face the winner of Florida A&M in the championship game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The Rattlers defeated Eastern Kentucky by the score of 64-58.
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