In a game that seemed to have slipped from its grasp Thursday at Green Coliseum, The University of Southern Mississippi came up with the right plays at the right time.
Sophomore guard Keri Jewett-Giles hit a go-ahead jumper with 6.7 seconds to play and the Lady Eagles stole the ball and scored on a breakaway layup as USM outlasted the University of Texas-San Antonio 74-71.
With USM trailing 71-70, Jewett-Giles came off a screen along the right baseline, took a pass from senior guard Brittany Dinkins and pulled up and popped a 16-footer to give the Lady Eagles the lead.
“I ended up calling to her at the last minute, she got it to me, and I hit the shot,” Jewett-Giles said.
After a UTSA timeout that brought the ball play to midcourt, USM junior forward Jayla King stole the inbounds, passed off to Jewett-Giles, who then fed Dinkins for a layup with 1 second to play.
“I had missed my free throws (with 44.7 seconds to play), and I just told myself, ‘I’ve got to come up with something to redeem myself on the defensive end,’” said King, who logged her fifth double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. “In my mind, I was telling myself, ‘I’m going to get this steal, I’m going to get this steal.' My teammates had everybody else locked up, and somebody tipped it and it ended up falling in my hands.”
Appearing thunderstruck, UTSA did not attempt even a down-court look for a shot at the buzzer, as USM (15-9, 7-5 Conference USA) won for the fourth time in five games.
The victory also gave the Lady Eagles a season sweep of the Lady Roadrunners (11-11, 7-4). USM topped UTSA 69-68 on Jan. 9 in San Antonio, Texas.
USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis was not on the sidelines because of medical reasons, but attended the game, watching at times from outside the basketball office atop Green Coliseum.
First-year assistant coach Kiley Hill, who was head coach at Division II Valdosta State University prior to his arrival in Hattiesburg, recorded the first Division I win of his career.
“We played well for about three quarters of that basketball game, and then we let some things rattle us a little,” said Hill, who saw the Lady Eagles lose all of a 16-point, third-quarter lead before rallying. “But I guess it’s the power of being at home.”
Dinkins led USM with 16 points, adding six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Freshman guard Shonte Hailes added 15 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, while senior guard Lashyra Cotton had 14 points and five rebounds before fouling out.
UTSA senior center Tesha Smith had game highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Loryn Goodwin added 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals, junior forward Kasia Kiejdrowska scored 12 points and junior guard Crystal Chidomere had 11 points and six rebounds.
The Lady Eagles will host University of Texas-El Paso at 4 p.m. Saturday.
UTSA 57, Golden Eagles 51
The Roadrunners dominated post play, outscoring USM 32-10 in the paint and outrebounding the Golden Eagles 45-35.
Forward Raheem Watts led USM with 17 points and five rebounds, as the Golden Eagles (7-17, 4-8 C-USA) dropped their second consecutive game.
Forward Quinton Campbell added 16 points and five rebounds for USM, while guard Cortez Edwards had game highs of 11 rebounds and eight assists.
Forward Jeff Beverly had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists, as the Roadrunners (11-13, 6-5) split the season series with the Golden Eagles. Guard Nick Allen added 14 points and eight rebounds, while guard Byron Frohen had 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
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