Press release from USM Women’s Basketball
The Southern Miss Lady Eagle basketball team used a stellar defensive effort, holding Ole Miss to 21.4 percent shooting from the field in defeating the Rebels 57-38 Saturday evening in Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss, winners of its last five, improved to 6-2 while Ole Miss dropped to 5-4. The last time a Southern Miss team defeated Ole Miss in Hattiesburg was Feb.4, 1980.
“This was another hard-fought game and a very competitive game,” head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “This is probably the best defensive game we’ve played at this point in our season. I felt like we made some steps defensively. We keyed in on their key players. I thought we did a great job of keeping them off track the first three quarters. Fourth quarter we lost (Shandricka) Sessom a few times. I believe defense was the difference in this game.”
Jerontay Clemons led the way with a team-best 17 points and six steals, Caitlin Jenkins added a double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds to go with six blocks and Brittanny Dinkins chipped in 12 points. Jayla King added nine points to go with eight rebounds.
“They (Ole Miss) play really hard,” McNelis said. “They threw that pressure at us and we made mistakes. We were able to take advantage early in the game of playing out of our attack mentality out of our defense. We got some easy buckets going to the offensive end. They did a great job of getting out over us, but it also gave us the opportunity of getting some backdoor cuts. Another thing that was a bright spot was our transition defense.”
Ole Miss opened the game scoring the first five points of the game. Southern Miss finally got scoreboard when Clemons sprinted the length of the floor for a layup. Both teams went cold from the floor for the next four minutes. Jenkins then sparked a 6-2 run to end the quarter, giving Southern Miss an 8-7 lead.
The Lady Eagles used a staffing defense in the second quarter, hold the Rebels scoreless for the first seven minutes as Southern Miss sprinted out to a 16 points advantage aided by a 15-0 run. Southern Miss led 26-13 at the intermission.
“One of the things that were really nice was the play of Jerontay Clemons,” said McNelis. “Tonight she was a difference maker. She was the one to guard Sessoms and she actually generated some things for us offensively, getting to the rim and finishing. Caitlin Jenkins did a real nice defensively as she was able to alter some shots at the rim.”
Out of the half, Ole Miss hit a three-pointer in cutting the lead to 10, 26-16, before Southern Miss ran off five straight to push the lead to 31-16. The Lady Eagles maintained the momentum throughout the third quarter, building a 22-point advantage 43-21.
In the final quarter, the Rebels found their offense and began chipping away at the Southern Miss lead. The Rebels forced Southern Miss into seven turnovers and turned that into 10 points. Ole Miss was able to get within 15 points with 5:39 remaining in the game, but the Lady Eagles were able to get a pair of layups off a couple of standout defensive plays.
Shandricka Sessom led Ole Miss with a game-high 20 points.
Southern Miss finished the game shooting 43.1 percent including 57.1 percent in the second half. The Lady Eagles won the battle of the boards, 52 to 39.
Southern Miss will hit the road for a game at No. 9/10 Mississippi State on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.