HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi women's basketball team had five players score 10 or more points in a game for the first time this season and the Lady Eagles pulled away in the final period Sunday afternoon to notch a 70-61 victory over Marshall University at Reed Green Coliseum.
Senior forward Jayla King logged her ninth double-double of the season with a team-high 15 points and game-high 10 rebounds and freshman guard Allie Kennedy scored a career-high 12 points as the Lady Eagles won their third consecutive game.
USM (13-9, 5-4 Conference USA) led the Lady Thundering Herd (7-15, 1-8) by just a point after one quarter, two points at halftime and four points after three quarters. But the Lady Eagles outscored Marshall 24-19 over the final period.
USM remained without the services of sophomore points guard Shonte Hailes, who is recovering from a sprained ankle.
USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said in Hailes' absence, the Lady Eagles are adjusting to different roles.
"We had a balanced scoring attack, and our freshman, Allie Kennedy, showed some poise for at the point guard spot," Lee-McNelis said. "When you look at, as a whole, we were able to have a few players step up in the absence of Shonte Hailes. We saw Allie Kennedy grow up before our eyes and understand the flow of the game."
Kennedy added seven rebounds, three assists and three steals to her stat line, and King also filled up the box score, tying her career-high with five assists, recording the first, multiple-block game of her career with three rejections and finishing with two steals.
Sophomore forward Respect Leaphart scored 12 points for the Lady Eagles, junior forward Megan Brown had 10 points and five rebounds and junior guard Alaire Mayze posted her second consecutive game in double-figure scoring with 10 points and six rebounds.
"Megan Brown made some big plays for us in a crunch situation, Jayla King was someone (who) made big plays for us despite struggling early and Respect Leaphart had another double-digit game," Lee-McNelis said.
Marshall junior swingman Shayna Gore led all scorers with 16 points, senior forward Talequia Hamilton added 10 points and six assists and freshman forward Taylor Pearson came off the bench for 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Lady Eagles remain at home, hosting Old Dominion University at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first game of women's-men's basketball doubleheader.
The men's team will welcome the University of North Carolina-Charlotte at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The women's game will be played in conjunction with the nation "Play4Kay Free Throw Challenge" campaign, which coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Lee-McNelis has issued a challenge, promising that if 2,500 fans attend the USM-ODU women's game Saturday, she will dye her hair pink and unveil it during halftime of the USM-Charlotte men's game.