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USM wraps up Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic with win

Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 10:50 PM CST
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Southern Miss Sports Information

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Efficient shooting and lockdown defense propelled the Lady Eagles past the MVSU Devilettes by a score of 72-53 on Saturday afternoon. Southern Miss finished the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic with a record of 1-1 and improved to 4-2 on the season.

Lauren Gross led the Lady Eagles with 15 points, a new season-high for the Southaven native. She was joined by Brikalya Gray (10) and Dominique Davis (10) in double-figures, while

Daishai Almond recorded eight points and eight assists to help lead Southern Miss to a bounce back victory.Defensively, the Lady Eagles shut down the Devilettes, as USM held MVSU to a shooting percentage of 26.1 throughout the contest. Southern Miss improves to 20-3 against MVSU in the all-time series.”I was really proud of the energy that they brought today,” head coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “Defensively, we did a really good job. We limited their opportunities for open looks. We contested a lot of shots. I felt like, defensively, we did a good job holding them.”

The Lady Eagles jumped out to an early lead in the opening quarter, as the offense clicked in the opening minutes of play. Gray led the way for Southern Miss at the start of the contest, as she hit a three-pointer and converted a momentum-boosting and-one play to break the game open.

Southern Miss shot efficiently throughout the first frame, while the Lady Eagle defense shut down the Devilettes’ offensive attempts.

USM shot 8-of-17 from the field and limited MVSU to a shooting percentage of 22.2 as Southern Miss took a 21-9 lead into the second quarter.The second quarter saw much of the same from the Lady Eagles, as Destiny Smith provided a spark off the bench, netting four points in the opening 90 seconds of the frame.

Gross knocked down a pair of three-pointers to extend USM’s lead to 31-13 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half. Gray converted her second three-point play of the game with 5:16 remaining in the first half, as Southern Miss posted the most points in a half this season.

The Lady Eagles posted a shooting percentage of 55.6 in the second frame, going 10-of-18 from the field and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Davis recorded 10 points, six rebounds and four assists through two quarters, as five Lady Eagles posted six or more points through 20 minutes. USM went into the locker room with a 46-23 lead over MVSU.

Melyia Grayson and Gross netted the first 10 points of the second half for the Lady Eagles, as USM continued to extend its advantage over the Devilettes. Southern Miss’ defense continued to be the difference, as MVSU was limited again to a shooting percentage of 22.2 in the third quarter.

Southern Miss finished the third quarter with a shooting percentage of 58.3, going 7-of-12 as USM continued to dominate the game. The Lady Eagles took efficient shots from the field and brought a 63-35 lead into the final frame.

Emma Wallhoff posted her first collegiate points in the fourth quarter, netting a three-pointer, as USM was able to secure a 72-53 victory over the Devilettes.

Davis and Almond were named to the Lady Eagle Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament team following Saturday’s contest. Davis posted 26 points over USM’s two tournament games, while Almond recorded 16 points over the weekend.Gross commented on the Lady Eagles’ potential following their much-needed victory over MVSU.

”I think our ceiling is higher than it’s ever been,” Gross said. “We have a lot of talent and honestly, the energy in practice is different than I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Our ceiling is high because everyone takes ownership of whatever they do.”

Up next, the Lady Eagles travel to Atlanta, Ga. for a nonconference matchup with the Georgia State Panthers on Saturday, Dec. 1.

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