Dec. 30, 2011Jamierra Faulkner scored the final four points of her team-high 23 in leading Southern Miss past Idaho, 63-62, in the Lady Griz Holiday Classic in closing out 2011.
Southern Miss improved to 6-7 on the season while Idaho dropped to 5-9.
"Our players played with a lot of guts tonight," Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "That was a very skilled Idaho basketball team and you don't make mistakes against a team like that. This game could have gone either way and I believe we got a break tonight."
Three other Lady Eagles scored in double figures with Tanecka Carey and Niesha Pierce with 11 points apiece and Ance Celmina chipping in 10. Niesha Pierce was the top rebounder with nine boards. Faulkner also handed out seven assists and came up with four steals.
Alyssa Charlston of Idaho led all scorers with a game-high 30 points including 20 points in the first half. No other Idaho player reached double digits.
"The difference in this game was the play of our bench," McNelis said. "Ewa was phenomenal off the bench. She got five offensive rebounds and that was huge for us. Niesha Pierce came off the bench and scored some buckets for us. She was very vocal defensively and was the key in the steal late in the game."
The teams started off evenly with each hitting a couple of free throws and trading baskets for a 4-4 tie. Hannah Fletcher came up with a steal and a basket for the 6-4 lead at the first media timeout. Out of the timeout, Nitesha Pierce hit a jumper in the lane before Carey knocked down a three and Faulkner found Celmina underneath in giving USM a 13-7 lead. The Lady Eagles extended their lead to 18-10 after a pair of Faulkner free throws. From there, Idaho turned an eight-point deficit into a five point advantage while hold USM scoreless over 5:16 to take a 23-18 lead. Faulkner got Southern Miss within one after hitting two baskets. Krissy Karr and Charlston hit back-to-back threes in pushing the lead to seven before Faulkner answered with a triple of her own for USM. Idaho got buckets from Charlston and Karr for the 33-25 lead. USM then closed out the half with a 9-2 run and trailed 35-34 at intermission.
The teams started the second half cold from the field as neither team managed to put any points on the board in the first three minutes. The teams combined for seven total points in the first six minutes of the half. For the next 8:54 there were three ties and six lead changes. With the scored tied at 52-52, Ganeaya Rogers hit one of two free throws for the 53-52 lead. Celmina gave the Eagles a 54-53 lead with a basket.
Idaho's Charlston then hit her fifth three-pointer in pushing the Vandals ahead, 56-54 with 4:03 remaining. Niesha Pierce tied the game off an offensive rebound, before Adrie Shields connected on a driving layup-and-one for the 59-56 lead at the 2:48 mark. Niesha Pierce converted one of two free throws and then came up with a big steal before getting the ball to Faulkner for a basket to tie the game at 59-59. Barr hit the second of two free throws for a 60-59 lead. Southern Miss regained a 61-60 advantage after coming up with two offensive rebounds before Faulkner hit a short jumper in the paint. Arendse then went the length of the court for a basket for a 62-61 Idaho lead with just 48 seconds remaining.
After a Southern Miss timeout, Faulkner worked her way into the paint, again, and hit a floater to give USM a 63-62 lead with 29 seconds remaining. After an Idaho timeout, the Vandals came up empty and Nitesha Pierce collected the rebound. Southern Miss had a chance to add more points, but missed the front end of the one-and-one with 13 seconds and allowing Idaho another chance to win the game, but Idaho's attempt was rimmed out and the Vandals couldn't get another shot before the time expired.
Southern Miss held the rebounding edge, 40-32, that included 20 offensive boards. Idaho outshot Southern Miss 43.8 percent to 37.3 percent, but the Lady Eagles got 15 second chance points and 15 points from the bench in aiding in the win.
Southern Miss now opens Conference USA play on Jan. 5 when the Lady Eagles travel to Tulsa. The 7 p.m. game will be televised on CSB SN.
Lady Griz Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team
Katie Baker, Montana (MVP)
Torry Hill, Montana
Alyssa Charlston, Idaho
Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Miss
Madi Buck, North Dakota
Madi Buck, North Dakota
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