HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's basketball team used a 21-4 run over an eight minute span late in the game in posting a 76-51 win over Grambling State Wednesday night.
"I believe that second group we put in in that first half really helped surged this team," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "I've said over and over again, we'll only be as strong as bench. Our bench really stepped and proved to be the difference makers. They were very critical."
Southern Miss, playing its third game in five days, improved to 8-2 while Grambling dropped to 2-7.
"We did get a little rattled in our pressure defense and gave up some easy shots," McNelis said. "We got back and played some half-court defense, I thought we did much better."
Tamara Jones led the way with 18 points, including 13 in the second half, followed by Voche' Martin with 13 points. Jamierra Faulkner dished out 10 assists. Jones also hauled in a team-best nine rebounds.
The Lady Eagles opened the game scoring the first nine points before Grambling was able to get on track. The Tigers cut the lead to five before Southern Miss scored five unanswered points for the 16-6 lead.
After GSU cut the lead to 19-11, Ashley Folsom ignited a 10-3 run that pushed the lead to 31-14. After the visitors connected on a three, the Lady Eagles closed out the half with a 6-2 run for a 37-19 halftime lead.
"Out of the locker room, I thought we were a little flat and we didn't have any energy and that allowed them to get back in the game," said McNelis. "We lost our poise and had to call a couple of timeouts to refocus."
The teams traded baskets to open the second half before Southern Miss added a free throw and basket from Brittanny Dinkins to put the Lady Eagles ahead 40-21. Grambling then went on a 22-8 run over eight minutes in whittling the lead to just five, 48-43 with 10:43 remaining in the game. Southern Miss then countered with a 21-4 run in putting the game out of reach. Southern Miss shot 50 percent in the second half.
The Lady Eagles held the rebounding edge 46-34, scoring 15 second chance points. Southern Miss scored 30 points off 21 GSU turnovers and added 14 fast break points. The Lady Eagles got a helping hand from the bench, scoring 28 points.
Joanna Miller led Grambling with 16 points while Victoya Ricks added 12 points and a team-best seven rebounds.
Southern Miss will host UNO on Saturday at 1 p.m., before taking a few days off for the Christmas Holidays and return to action on Dec. 29 against Nicholls State.
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