Lady Eagle basketball outlasts Louisiana Tech 79-77 in overtime

Lady Eagle basketball outlasts Louisiana Tech 79-77 in overtime

 This is a news release from Southern Miss athletics

RUSTON, La. – Senior Tamara Jones scored a game-high 30 points to go with 11 rebounds in leading the Southern Miss women's basketball to a 79-77 overtime win against Louisiana Tech in the Conference USA opener Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Eagles improved to 8-4 and 1-0 while Louisiana Tech dropped to 5-7 and 0-1.

"This was a great win and a great overtime win for us," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "Execution of our half-court offense was very good. There are a lot of pluses, number one we get the win; number two you have a couple of unsung heroes; we shot the three-ball very well; and we ran our half-court offense very well because we were patient and poised.

"We were going for the last second shot in regular, but we were so into let's get to the rim that we missed that opportunity," McNelis said. "Tech totally dominated the offensive glass in the first half, but we made some adjustments at the half in that area was much better. I thought our defenses gave us opportunities to get some easy baskets. I think the one area you have to say hats off is that we made mistakes but we fought back."

Brooke Rhodes added 16 points including the go-ahead basket with 31.9 seconds remaining. Alex Coyne chipped in 10 points and dished out eight assists to go with five steals. Southern Miss was 6-of-7 from the field in the overtime period including 3-of-3 from behind the arc.

"I thought we shot the three-ball really well," said McNelis. "My disappointment was our performance from the free throw line. Tamara Jones stepped up and hit a huge bucket and free throw to help seal that win. Brooke Rhodes hit some big three-balls for us. We had a pair of unsung heroes in the game, Voche' Martin and Ashley Folsom."

In the overtime period, both teams came out shooting the three-ball as the teams traded threes in the first 1:15 of the overtime. Rhodes connected on a three, but Tech answered with a three before Jones connected a three as well to give the Lady Eagles a 69-66 lead. Tech added a free throw, but on the in-bounds pass Clemons found Jones underneath for the layup and a four-point USM advantage, 74-70. Louisiana Tech then scored on a basket and a three-pointer to take the 75-74 lead with 1:26 remaining. Jones then converted a three-point play with just over a minute remaining for the two-point lead. After Tech tied the game, Rhodes hit a free throw line jumper to give the Lady Eagles a 79-77 lead. Tech missed on its next possession and Clemons secured the rebound with 3.9 seconds and was fouled. Clemons missed both free throws, but Jones came up with a big offensive rebound to secure the win.

Louisiana Tech held a 60-58 lead with two minutes remaining in regulation when Voche' Martin connected a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60-60. Tech converted on one of two free throws to give Tech a 61-60 lead. Southern Miss answered with two frees by Jones for the 62-61 advantage. Coyne had a chance to extend the Lady Eagle lead but made only one of two for 63-61 lead with 21 seconds remaining. LA Tech's JaQuan Jackson then went the length of the court and scored on a layup in tying the game with 12 seconds to go. Southern Miss missed a chance for the win when the Lady Eagles missed a part of jumpers in the paint.

Southern Miss sprinted out to a 6-0 lead behind back-to-back threes by Rhodes and Dinkins. The Lady Eagles pushed their lead to 13-5 just under five minutes into the game before Tech's Frazier converted a three-point play. Jones then buried another three to push the lead back to eight. From there, the teams traded baskets for a pair of possessions. Louisiana Tech then went on an 11-0 run over 6:45. Under that span, Southern Miss was 0-6 from the field and had nine turnovers. Tech eventually pushed its lead to 26-20 behind, but the Lady Eagles were able to keep the score close and trailed 32-31 at the half.

Frazier led Tech with 27 points and nine rebounds while Kelia Shelton had 19 and Jackson added 17 points.

Southern Miss finished game shooting 39.4 percent from the field. The Lady Eagles connected on 11-of-22 from behind the arc. LA Tech held the rebounding edge, 50-43.

Southern Miss returns to action on Jan. 8 when the Lady Eagles host UTSA at 6 p.m.