Lady Eagles' second-half rally tops UAB

Lady Eagles' second-half rally tops UAB

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - University of Southern Mississippi guard Keri Jewett-Giles may have turned in the most productive 1.3 seconds of basketball in the history of the Lady Eagles Saturday evening at Green Coliseum.

Jewett-Giles scored six points in that span to all-but-seal USM's 64-59 Conference USA victory over the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

"What a basketball games," USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. "Just a great play."

The Lady Eagles, who had trailed by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, were clinging to a one-point lead when junior forward Jayla King dribbled off her foot, giving UAB possession with 20.2 seconds left to play.

But Jewett-Giles, who had just come into the game, stepped in front of the inbounds pass near half court and drove for the layup with 16.4 seconds left despite a flagrant foul by UAB freshman guard Miyah Barnes.

Jewett-Giles made both free throws and then took an inbounds pass from freshman guard Shonte Hailes to score from the right side of the lane as USM went from a 58-57 lead to a 64-57 cushion.

"I don't think so," said Jewett-Giles when asked whether she had ever scored six points in less than 2 ticks on the game clock. "(My defender) was trailing me, and I wound up being open (on the inbounds play). (Hailes) got me the  ball, and I just was able to score."

USM (13-8, 5-4 C-USA) logged consecutive wins while handing the Lady Blazers (10-10, 3-6) their second loss in a row.

The win didn't come easy. The Lady Eagles appeared out of synch for the first two quarters, trailing 21-9 in the first quarter, and still by as many as 10 in the second before scrapping their way back into the game.

Giles-Jewett hit a 3-pointer out of the corner with 2.2 seconds left in the second quarter to leave USM down 40-33 at halftime, and the Lady Eagles twice tied the game before exiting the third quarter trailing 51-47.

But the Lady Eagles kept the defensive clamps on UAB, and all the balls that seemed to bounce the Lady Blazers' way in the first three quarters began to even out.

UAB made just five baskets in the second half, including a 2-for-12 effort (16.7 percent) in the final period. The Lady Eagles outscored UAB 17-8 over the final 10 minutes.

"All the things that went wrong in the first three quarters for us went right in the fourth quarter."

Hailes gave USM its first lead on a jumper in the lane with 6:43 to play, and senior forward Lashyra Cotton hit a free throw to give the Lady Eagles a 54-52 lead.

UAB freshman guard Rachael Childress rattled in a 3-pointer to give the Lady Blazers their final lead of the game at 55-53 with 5:45 to go.

But King, who led USM with 16 points and six rebounds, popped in a short jumper for 56-55 lead and then scored in the lane for a three-point edge with 2:12.

Senior guard Janeka Williams hit a shot in the lane to get UAB back within a point, and King's turnover left the Lady Blazers with a with a last chance at a last-minute win.

But Jewett-Giles, who scored 13 points, sealed the win for the Lady Eagles, who improved to 9-2 at Green Coliseum.

USM senior guard Brittany Dinkins matched King's 16 points, including 10 in the second half.

"I just got off to a slow start," said Dinkins, who added four assists and four rebounds, "but Coach challenged me at halftime, challenged all of us at halftime."

Williams scored a game-high 17 points for the Lady Blazers, while freshman center Katelynn Thomas added 13 points and Childress had nine points and a team-high six rebounds.

The Lady Eagles will take to the road next week, taking on Marshall University at 5 p.m. Thursday and the University of Western Kentucky at 4 p.m. Saturday.