HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - USM Press Release
The Lady Eagle basketball team rallied from a 17 point first quarter deficit, took the lead late, but couldn't hold on as WKU defeated Southern Miss 54-53 in Conference USA action Thursday night in Reed Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss drops to 14-14 overall and 7-10 in league play while WKU improves to 23-5 and 14-3.
"First of all, big time players make big time plays," Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "That's what Kendall Noble did. Details separate winning and losing. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves a hole. We played with tremendous effort and poise, but all that gets you is a moral victory. Details win ball games and that what we have to get done. Great effort keeps you in the game and that's what we had for 30 minutes."
Brittanny Dinkins poured in a team-high 19 points while Caitlin Jenkins adding 11 points and nine rebounds.
"Brittanny Dinkins' effort was outstanding in that second quarter," McNelis said. "She totally dominated that quarter."
Southern Miss scored the first two points to start the game, then WKU ran off the next 19 in taking a 19-4 lead after the first quarter. The Lady Eagles shot just 20 percent on 1-of-5 shooting from the field.
Dinkins scored 10 straight points to start the second quarter to cut the lead to 19-14. After the teams traded baskets before the Lady Toppers went on an 11-2 run in pushing the lead to 14, 30-16 with 1:15 remaining in the half. Dinkins added another pair of baskets before WKU got a bucket. Keri Jewett-Giles scored on a short jumper in the paint. WKU led 32-22 at the intermission.
Southern Miss continued momentum out of the half as WKU scored the first points, but the Lady Eagles used an 18-5 run over a span of 7:07 to take a 40-39 lead with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter. Jenkins accounted for nine of the 18 points scored during the run. However, WKU hit two free throws in the final 16 seconds to regain the lead.
In the final stanza, both teams came out battling as the teams traded baskets to start the quarter. Southern Miss finally took a 46-45 lead after Shayla Wilson got open on an inbounds pass and converted a basket, before Tajanay Veiga added a pair of free throws for the lead. WKU Tashia Brown put the Lady Toppers up, but Dinkins answered with a basket. Brittny Norris added a free throw to give the Lady Eagles a two-point advantage 49-47 at the 2:24 mark in the game. WKU's Kendall Noble then completed a three-point play, then added a three free throws later to put the lead to 53-49 with just 41 seconds remaining. Southern Miss got a quick basket to cut the lead to 53-51, but it was Noble again who connected on 1-of-2 free throws in give WKU a three-point advantage. After a defensive stop for the Lady Eagles, Southern Miss missed on a three-point attempt but got the offensive rebound. Jenkins then hit both free throws to get the score to 54-53. WKU took a timeout and advanced the ball with 2.5 seconds remaining, however, the Lady Eagles almost came up with a steal but the ball got loose as time expired.
Noble led the WKU with 20 points while Tashia Brown added 11 points. Noble and Dee Givens each had six rebounds.
The Lady Eagles finished the game shooting 50 percent from the field that included 52.9 percent in the second quarter followed by a 57.1 percent shooting in the third and 50 percent shooting performance in the final quarter. WKU got 21 points off 22 Lady Eagle turnovers.
Southern Miss will close out the regular season against Marshall on Saturday in a 4 p.m. tip. Tickets will be $2 each for General Admission and the first 200 fans in attendance will also receive a Russell Drawstring Bag at the gates.