DENTON, Texas - A furious rally by the University of Southern Mississippi fell just short Thursday night as the University of North Texas held on for a 71-62 Conference USA women's basketball win.
USM (13-11, 5-6 C-USA), which lost for the third time in its last four games, trailed by 22 points, 46-24, after a jumper by UNT junior guard Micayla Buckner with 7:45 left in the third quarter.
But the Lady Eagles began chipping away, cutting the deficit to 12, 52-40, by the end of the period and pulling with 65-61 on a basket by USM sophomore forward Respect Leaphart with 1:08 left in the game.
North Texas (14-10, 5-7) closed out USM, outscoring the Lady Eagles 5-1 in the final minute.
USM senior forward Jayla King scored a team-high 18 points before fouling out. Leaphart came off the bench for 16 points and six rebounds and junior Megan Brown added 13 points.
In her first game since injuring her ankle, USM sophomore point guard Shonte Hailes scored USM's final point of the game on a free throw for her only point of the game. In 19 minutes, Hailes missed three shots, handed out two assists and committed two turnovers.
UNT got a game-high 26 points, five rebounds and four assists from junior guard Terriell Bradley and junior point guard Brittany Smith added 11 points and three assists.
USM will continue a three-game road trip at 2:30 p.m. Saturday when the Lady Eagles visit Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, La.