HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Three games in three days. This was the task that awaited the University of Southern Mississippi women's basketball squad this week entering the Las Vegas Classic.
In three days the Lady Eagles would have faced the likes of California, Xavier and Northern Kentucky. Day one was a disappointment (71-51 loss to Cal) but USM responded Tuesday with a 73-59 win over Xavier.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and improved the Lady Eagles to 8-3 on the year.
"We did a lot of things well and did a lot of things that were kind of ugly," Lady Eagles coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "But I think the biggest thing was is that in the second half when they made the run we put our foot down and didn't let them get any closer."
USM had four players score in double digits, led by 18 from Jayla King. The junior was huge on the boards, pulling down 16 rebounds.
"It's real satisfying to know that I was able to get boards and help m team get the ball up the floor, get easy buckets, easy transition," King said. "Because I knew if I didn't rebound it was going to be a long night for us."
Keri Jewett-Giles was second on the team with 15 points. Brittany Dinkins and Megan Brown had 11 apiece.
Marquia Turner led Xavier with 14 points.
"The play of Jayla King and the energy that Jayla King brought this team was absolutely amazing," Lee-McNelis said. "I had no idea she had 16 rebounds. I just knew she was all around the ball all the time."
The Lady Eagles complete their three-day journey at 10 a.m. Wednesday against Northern Kentucky.
Lee-McNelis is expecting this to be an interesting duel between two defensive-minded teams.
"Northern Kentucky is a tough basketball team," Lee-McNelis said. "They're the kind of grinder team. They kind of remind me of men's teams that are just defensive grinders. They may score 57 points but they're grinding you defensively. That's what Northern Kentucky does."