USM women topped by UTEP in conference tournament

By FROM SOUTHERN MISS,

FRISCO, Texas – The eighth-seeded Southern Miss women’s basketball team fell to the ninth-seeded UTEP Miners 72-67 in the first round of the 2018 Conference USA Women’s Basketball Tournament. 

 “The game is filled with runs and they had a few more than we did,” Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “I think when you look at the overall aspect of the game, the balance of UTEP’s attack made the biggest difference. We take the lead in the first quarter, have momentum and have things going, but their point guard was able to get the ball into the hands of the right people.”

 “A game is filled with runs,” said Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “They had a few more runs than we did. When you look at the overall game, the balance of their attack made the biggest difference. We go a segment where we take a lead in the third quarter and have momentum and [UTEP point guard] Faith Cook really maintained composure and got the ball in the hands of the right people in [Tamara] Seda and then [Zuzanna] Puc. When they made that run, I thought we’d have another run, and we did, but we ran out of time.”

The Lady Eagles and Miners traded baskets for the duration of the first half of the game and UTEP would hold a 31-27 advantage going into the halftime break. 

The Miners would open the second half with a 10-3 run, extending the lead to 41-30. Southern Miss responded by clawing back and ripping off a 22-1 run that spanned four and half minutes. UTEP would then counter, bringing themselves within two at the start of the fourth quarter.

Molly Brown, playing her final game in a Southern Miss uniform, came alive for Southern Miss in the third period. She tallied all of her nine points in the 10-minute span, going three-of-four from beyond the arc. Shonte Hailes also chipped in during the charge, adding 12 of her final 23 points during the third quarter.

The Lady Eagles would have a dry spell in the final quarter, leading to the Miners outscoring Southern Miss 20-13 for the length of the period, moving the Lady Eagles to 17-22 all-time in the C-USA Tournament.

“I think our team played hard,” McNelis said. “Defensively we busted our butts and laid it all on the line. Offensively we had some good spurts, but it was all generated from our defense. In that fourth quarter, we went three minutes without scoring and I think that’s when we lost the game. We just couldn’t get in a flow in that segment of the game and when those things happen at this time of year you don’t have a chance to respond.”

Jayla King, who was also making her final appearance for the Black and Gold, collected 12 points to bring her career total to 1,023. The Pensacola, Fla. native leaves Southern Miss as the program’s 26th all-time leading scorer.

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