Curtain lowers on Lady Eagles’ basketball season

Curtain lowers on Lady Eagles' basketball season

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ University of North Alabama guard Emma Wallen dropped in the go-ahead 3-pointer with 42.3 seconds to play in overtime Monday, as the visiting Lions roared back to take down the University of Southern Mississippi 69-65 at Reed Green Coliseum.

“We had opportunities,” USM coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “We were there a number of times, and just could not run our offense. We just didn’t do a great job of execution.”

So, instead, the Lady Eagles (18-12) saw their season come to an end in the second round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational.

“I’m very proud of this team and what they accomplished and how they grew over the course of the season,” Lee-McNelis said.

The game will not be remembered for its artistic flow, with the teams combining for 51 turnovers. USM shot just 35 percent from the floor to UNA’s 51 percent.

But the Lady Eagles not only outrebounded (37-33) the Lions, but 15 boards came off USM’s offensive glass, keeping possessions alive and denying UNA opportunities.

The Lions also struggled from the free-throw line, missing (10) nearly as many free throws as they made (11).

Both teams boasted balanced scoring.

USM nearly had five players score 10 points or more, with Kelsey Jones scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Junior point guard Shonte Hailes, who made two free throws with 14.4 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, had 15 points and five assists. Junior guard Alaire Mayze had 14 points, a team-high seven rebounds and four steals while sophomore post Respect Leaphart added 12 points and six rebounds.

And in her final outing as a Lady Eagle, senior wing Megan Brown had 11 points, five rebounds and four steals.

It was also Brown who gave the Lady Eagles their final lead of the game, 64-63, when she added the final points of her career on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:01 to play in the extra period.

But Wallen worked past a wall-of-a screen atop the left elbow and let fly a high-arching shot that hit nothing but net and gave the Lions (21-8) a 66-64 lead with 42.3 seconds to play.

USM worked the ball low, but Mayze had her point-blank attempt at the basket blocked by UNA post Brittany Panetti, who got the ball out to Wallen’s sister, point guard Ivy Wallen.

Ivy Wallen was fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws, leaving the door ajar for a game-tying 3-pointer, but USM never attempted a trey and Maize was fouled in the lane with 2.3 seconds to play.

She made the first, missed the second, and UNA got the ball when it went out of bounds. Emma Wallen took the inbounds’ pass, was fouled and drilled the final two points from the line of her game-high 22 points with less than a second left in the game.

The Lions will face the winner of Tuesday night’s, second-round WBI game between the University of North Texas and Utah State University.

Four players combined to score 61 of UNA’s 65 points.

The Wallens, two of a trio of triplet sisters, combined to play 84 minutes. Emma Wallen played 42 of a possible 45 minutes, knocking down 7-of-10 shots, including 6-of-9 beyond the arc. She also finished with a game-high five steals.

Ivy Wallen, who played 41 minutes, scored just four points, but handed out 10 assists to go with nine turnovers. Panetti had 18 points and eight rebounds, hitting 8-of-11 shots.

Guard Kenysha Coulson made 3-of-5 shots, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Guard Savannah Stults went 4-of-5, hitting both her 3-pointers, to finish with 11 points.

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