HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Ignited by an 11-1 run over 3:18, the Southern Miss women's basketball rallied from an eight-point deficit in the second half to defeat Nicholls State, 84-66 Sunday afternoon.
"We did not play very well in the first half," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "We had a lot of mental breakdowns and it was real disappointing. Not to take anything from Nicholls State because they are a heck of a basketball team. Anytime you have shooters like they do, it causes problems. They can really shoot the ball."
Tamara Jones led a quartet of Lady Eagles with 19 points, including 17 second half points followed by Kierra Jordan with 18, Jamierra Faulkner had 17 and Jerontay chipped in 10. Faulkner and Alex Coyne handed out seven assists each while Jordan and Markia Nix led the team with six rebounds apiece.
"Our defense generates our offense," McNelis said. "Our defense, steals and energy gave us an opportunity to score some easy baskets and pull out a victory."
Southern Miss ran out to a 6-0 lead before Nicholls cut the lead to 8-7 behind a 7-2 run. The home team then used a 13-4 run to increase the lead to 21-11. Nicholls then held Southern Miss scoreless for the next 4:48 in taking its first lead of the game, 22-21, with an 11-0 run. The Lady Eagles then added a pair of Coyne free throws in regaining the lead. For the final 2:41, the teams traded free throws and a couple of baskets before Nicholls got a three-pointer to tie the game at 29-29 and followed with a steal and layup to take a 31-29 lead into intermission.
Nicholls opened the second half outscoring Southern Miss 13-7 in taking a 44-36 lead. From there, Faulkner hit Clemons for a driving layup to spark an 11-1 run over 3:18 to put Southern Miss ahead, 47-45, with 11:11 remaining in the game. The Lady Eagles never trailed again. Over the final eight minutes, Southern Miss outscored Nicholls 31-16.
"We had solid practices after our Christmas break," McNelis said. "Markia Nix, Jerontay Clemons and Alex Coyne had unbelievable practices and I was anxious to see what they would do. Alex had seven assists and no turnovers and that's huge step for her. Markia Nix was very solid today. She boarded the ball, got deflections and did a great job shooting free throws. She was very active. It doesn't show in the stat sheet, but she did so many other things. Jerontay didn't have a good first half, but she played very well the second half, especially on defense."
Southern Miss finished the game shooting 54.1 percent from the field including 75 percent in the second half. The Lady Eagles scored 60 points in the paint, got 30 points off 22 Colonel turnovers and 24 fastbreak points. The Southern Miss bench contributed 38 points.
Emani White led all scorers with a game-high 20 points and Jenny Nash added 19 points.
Southern Miss returns to the court on Jan. 4 against cross-town foe William Carey in the annual dollar day ticket. All tickets, soft drinks, hot dogs and popcorn are only $1 for that day only.
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