HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Four Lady Eagles notched double figure scoring as Southern Miss defeated Florida A&M by a score of 96-69 in the championship game of the Hampton Inn Lady Eagle Classic Saturday evening.
"It was a great win," head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "I thought the greatest thing about it was we played great basketball for the first 34 minutes because we played well. We are not satisfied by any means, but we finished the game because we had such a large lead. We have to finish stronger than what we did.
"Yes, we were giving players opportunities to get some minutes, but the combinations we used did not give us what we wanted. That was disappointing. But for 34 minutes, we played very solid basketball," McNelis said.
Southern Miss improved to 6-1 on the year while Florida A&M dropped to 5-2.
Jamierra Faulkner led all scorers with a game-high 22 points and was named the tournament's MVP while Kierra Jordan, who earned all-tournament honors, came off the bench to score 16 points. Jerontay Clemons had 13 points off the bench and Brittanny Dinkins chipped in 10. Clemons also handed out seven assists. Faulkner also finished with four assists and four steals.
Southern Miss fell behind early as FAMU sprinted out to a 10-4 lead only 3:13 into the game. The Lady Eagles then went on a 12-2 run over 6:17. Jordan started the run with a pair of free throws before Dinkins and Clemons combined for six points before Faulkner capped the run with a three-pointer for the 16-12 lead.
Southern Miss then added another 16-4 run in pushing the lead to double digits, 32-16, when Faulkner found a sprinting Dinkins for a layup before she came up a steal and layup. Clemons hit Jordan underneath for a basket then converted one of two from the line before adding another basket. Faulkner connected on a three before Jordan hit a pair of free throws and Clemons hit a short jumper in the paint. The Lady Eagles led by as many as 18 in the half, but FAMU outscored Southern Miss 6-4 in the final minute as Southern Miss led 44-28 at the half.
The Lady Eagles opened the second half with a 16-3 run and never looked back in building a 26-point advantage just five minutes into the half, 60-34. Southern Miss continued to hit on all cylinders as the Lady Eagles built a 40-point lead at the 6:51 mark. FAMU had a little fight as the Rattlers outscored Southern Miss 23-6 to get the score down to 92-68.
Southern Miss held the rebounding edge, 42-35. The Eagle bench scored 46 points while coming up with 18 second chance points and 18 fast break points.
Jasmine Grice led FAMU with 16 points and Kenya Dixon added 13 points off the bench. Joining Faulkner, Jones and Jordan on the all-tournament team were Marie Carpenter of Eastern Kentucky, Ashley Beals of Mississippi Valley State and Grice of FAMU.
Mississippi Valley State defeated Eastern Kentucky in the consolation game, 68-58.
Southern Miss will hit the road for only the second time this season when the Lady Eagles travel to Central Arkansas on Dec. 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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