BIRMINGHAM, AL (WDAM) _ The University of Southern Mississippi Lady Eagles nearly found their way back from an 18-point deficit at Bartow Arena Saturday afternoon.
But down the stretch, the University of Alabama-Birmingham were able to push its lead back into double digits and hold off the Lady Eagles in the end for a 71-60 Conference USA victory.
USM junior point guard Shonte Hailes turned in her best game in three weeks since returning from an ankle injury with 12 points, seven assists and three rebounds.
But UAB (15-2, 3-1 C-USA) got a season-high 23 points from junior point guard Miyah Barnes and 19 points and seven rebounds from junior forward Katelynn Thomas.
The Lady Blazers led 38-22 at halftime and went up 18 points, 46-28, with 6 minutes, 7 seconds, left in the third quarter.
But the Lady Eagles (8-9, 0-4) put together a spurt that helped them cut their deficit to 53-45 after three quarters.
USM drew even closer, getting within 55-51 with 7:10 to play. But Barnes scored the next seven points of the game to push UAB’s lead back to 11. The Lady Eagles got back within seven points with 2:26 to play, but that’s as close as USM could manage as UAB knocked down 7-of-10 free throws in the final 1:54.
The Lady Eagles scored 50 points in a conference game for the first time this season, but it was not enough to avoid a fifth straight loss as UAB won for the 10th time in 11 games.
Senior wing Megan Brown and freshman guard Dashai Almond each scored nine points for the Lady Eagles, while junior wing Alarie Maize and junior center Respect Leaphart combined for 12 points and 17 rebounds.
UAB junior forward Rachael Childress added 11 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Deanna Kuzmanic finished with six points, five assists and three rebounds.
USM will return home this week, welcoming the University of North Carolina-Charlotte at 6 p.m. Thursday to Reed Green Coliseum.