Press release from Southern Miss athletics
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The Southern Miss women's basketball team rallied from an 18-point second half deficit but came up just short in falling to league-leading UTEP 57-54 Thursday night.
Southern Miss drops to 12-12 and 5-8 on the season while losing for the first time in Reed Green Coliseum this season. UTEP improved to 22-2 and 13-1.
"We played really hard tonight," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis. "I thought we played with a lot of effort in that fourth quarter. The difference in the ball game was offensive rebounding. We didn't keep them off the boards early. Turnovers just killed us tonight. We had a lot of opportunities to score, but we didn't finish. However, you have to say hats off to UTEP."
Brittanny Dinkins paced the Lady Eagles with 17 points while Brittny Norris had 14 and Tajanay Veiga added 13 points. Jayla King pulled down eight rebounds. Dinkins also dished out five assists.
Southern Miss put the first points on the scoreboard with a Dinkins three-pointer. UTEP answered by scoring the next five points. Dinkins hit another three before UTEP went on an 11-0 run in taking a double digit lead. The Miners led 18-7 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Eagles opened the second quarter scoring the first five points to cut the lead to 18-12. The teams traded baskets before UTEP scored on a three-pointer and fastbreak basket to push the lead to 27-14. Norris knocked down a three and Cotton added a layup to cut the lead to eight. UTEP hit a basket just before time expired to take a 29-19 lead into the half.
UTEP opened the third quarter using a 12-4 run in taking a 41-23 lead with 3:29 remaining in the quarter. Southern Miss then connected on five-of-six free throws before Norris hit another three to cut the lead to 41-31. The Miners held a 43-32 lead at the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter appeared to be all Southern Miss as the Lady Eagles outscored UTEP 22-14 in the final stanza. Southern Miss shot nearly 60 percent from the field. The Miners converted on a three-point play to start the quarter. After the teams traded steals and turnovers on a couple of possessions, Southern Miss got a basket from Shayla Wilson in kick starting a 20-7 run over 6:35 to cut the lead to just one, 53-52. In the final minute, the Lady Eagles had several opportunities to take the lead, but turnovers proved to be the downfall as the Miners converted the final two free throws to seal the win.
UTEP's Cameasha Turner led all scorers with 20 points while Starr Breedlove added 12. Chrishauna Parker and Tamara Seda pulled down eight rebounds each.
Southern Miss remains at home to host UTSA on Saturday at 5 p.m. Fans may redeem their Saturday Baseball Ticket Stub at the Reed Green Box Office for a Complimentary Ticket to the Women's Basketball game as part of a ticket bounce-back.