HATTIESBURG, Miss. _ Senior forward Respect Leaphart scored a game-high 19 points as the University of Southern Mississippi pulled away in the middle quarters Wednesday night for a 62-54 victory over Southeastern Louisiana University.
USM senior point guard Shonte Hailes added 17 points as the Lady Eagles handed Coach Joye Lee-McNelis her 250th career victory at the helm of her alma mater.
The Lady Eagles (2-1) led just 11-10 after one quarter, but held the Lady Lions (1-2) to nine points to grab a 30-19 halftime lead.
The lead grew to 52-36 after three periods and USM led by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter.
Leaphart, who grabbed five rebounds, hit 7-of-11 shots and five of her seven free throws.
Hailes, who has scored at least 11 points in USM’s first three games, handed out a game-high four assists, pulled down six rebounds and blocked a shot.
Junior guard Allie Kennedy scored 20 points, had two assists and came up with a career-high three steals.
Sophomore forward Kelsey Jones pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and pitched in with six points.
USM out-rebounded SLU 42-33 and hit a useful 76 percent from the free-throw line (29-of-25), mitigating some of the potential damage from 22 Lady Eagles’ turnovers.
SLU got 16 points, three rebounds and two steals from senior guard Celica Sterling, 13 points, four rebounds and four steals from senior forward Jyar Francis and 10 points, three assists and two steals from freshman guard Alexis Horne.
USM will hit the road for a noon tipoff Saturday at the University of Louisiana-Monroe.