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Second Half Surge Helps Southern Miss to 61-59 Victory Over Mississippi State

Jerontay Clemons converted five-of-six free throws from the line.

Jerontay Clemons converted five-of-six free throws from the line.

Dec. 1, 2012

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss used a 20-5 run over a span of 7:58 in the second half to defeat in-state rival Mississippi State, 61-59, Saturday evening in Reed Green Coliseum.

The Lady Eagles extended its winning streak to four and improved to 4-2 on the young season while State dropped to 3-5.

"Mississippi State is a very good basketball team and they are huge inside," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "About midway through the first half and the majority of the second half, they took full advantage of shoving us down to the block and being able to go to it and score the basketball. You have to give them credit.

"We got off to a good start, but State was able to make some adjustments. We did take some ill-advised shots that were not in the flow of our offensive sets. We've had to emphasize to our team to play within their game. We executed much better in the second half after making some adjustments at the half with our defense and that was the difference," said McNelis. "We had different players who made big plays for us down the stretch."

Senior Tanecka Carey and freshman Jerontay Clemons paced the Lady Eagles with 17 points apiece while Jamierra Faulkner added another double-double with 11 points and 11 assists. Ance Celmina led the team with eight rebounds.

With 12:17 remaining in the game, Carey connected a bucket to spark the 20-5 run as the Lady Eagles scored six consecutive points before Mississippi State got a Sherise Williams basket for the 49-40 lead. From there, Clemons and Carey combined for five more points to cut the lead to four, 49-45, before Gaynor nailed a three to push the lead to 52-47 with 7:18 to go in the game. Southern Miss then scored the next seven points to tie the game for the first time since the 4-4 tie in the first half.

State regained the lead, 54-52, on a Grant basket off an offensive rebound. Southern Miss had several opportunities to tie or take the lead, but missed three straight free throw before Nitesha Pierce connected on one to get the score to 54-53. Mississippi State converted a pair of free throws before Faulkner hit a floater in the paint and Pierce came back with a bucket underneath to give Southern Miss its first lead since 5:33 mark in the first half, 57-56. Faulkner gave the Eagles 59-56 lead on a layup with 2:17 remaining. After a pair of turnovers by each team, State' Jerica James nailed a three to tie the game with 21 seconds remaining. Following a timeout by each team, Faulkner found Ance Celmina on the block for the layup with 5.1 seconds to give USM a 61-59 lead. State could not get a shot off as time expired.

Kendra Grant led State with 10 points while Martha Alwal recorded a team-best 10 rebounds.

The team opened the game trading baskets through the first four minutes until Mississippi State used a 6-2 run for the 14-9 lead before Carey connected on a pair of free throws and a three-pointer to tie the game at 14-14. Faulkner put the home team up 18-17 on two free throws at the 5:33 mark before James gave the Bulldogs a 20-18 lead. USM's Teri Berry tied the game at 20-all on a basket underneath before Mississippi State closed out the half using a 13-4 run for the 33-24 halftime lead.

Southern Miss finished half shooting only 25 percent from the field, but had only seven turnovers at the break.

The Lady Eagles will hit the road for a game at UALR on Dec. 4 followed by a game at ULM on Dec. 9.

Follow USM Women's Basketball:    

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