Jones lifts Lady Eagles to 82-80 victory

Senior guard Jamierra Faulkner scored a career-high of 39 points against East Carolina Saturday afternoon.  Jamie Gominger/Printz
Senior guard Jamierra Faulkner scored a career-high of 39 points against East Carolina Saturday afternoon.
Jamie Gominger/Printz

For the third straight game, the Lady Eagles played in an overtime game. Jamierra Faulkner continued her hot streak as she led all scorers with a career-high 39 points, including 30 in the second half, to along with five assists and four steals.

“This young group rallied back behind the will of Jamierra Faulkner.” Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. Brittany Dinkins was the second leading scorer for the Golden Eagles with 13 points. Lashyra Cotton and Tamara Jones each collected five rebounds.

With 10:17 remaining in the game and Southern Miss trailing by 18, they could have accepted the loss, instead they got behind their leader Faulkner, who ignited a 15-2 run to cut the lead to 59-54.

Neither USM nor ECU came out hot as they combined for just 22 points in the first 12 minutes of the game. After exchanging baskets, East Carolina used 9-0 run to take a 23-16 lead with 3:55 to go before the half. The Pirates took a 30-21 lead into half.

“We had some players who didn’t start the game playing well, but made comebacks,” said McNelis. “We saw some flashes from Lashyra Cotton where she was able to get some big rebounds for us.”

ECU’s Abria Trice put the Pirates on top by seven, 61-54, before Jerontay Clemons made two free throws from the charity stripe to keep the Lady Eagles alive pulling them within five points. However, Trice, who finished with 22 points, knocked down another basket for ECU.

Faulkner hit a pair of free throws then followed with a layup to get within 3 points. Following a media timeout, Faulkner hit a jumper at the top of the key to cut the Pirates’ lead to one. East Carolina answered with Kristine Mial hitting a jump shot close to the basket before Shae Nelson banked in a three from straight away to put the Pirates up, 68-62, with 2:10 remaining.

Faulkner answered with a basket before East Carolina went 1-of-2 at the free throw line to push the lead to five, 69-64. Tamara Jones then hit a clutch three-pointer with 33 seconds left to play. Clemons then came up with a steal and found Faulkner who was able to tie the game on a layup with 17 seconds remaining. The Pirates’ ensuing shot bounced off the rim and the Lady Eagles came up with a rebound to send the game into overtime.

East Carolina scored the first basket in overtime before Faulkner found Ashley Folsom in the paint to tie game at 71-71. USM and ECU traded baskets before Faulkner put USM ahead for the first time since the 6:26 mark in the first half.

East Carolina then scored four-straight points to take a 79-77 lead before Dinkins hit a three from the left corner to give the Lady Eagles an 80-79 advantage. ECU tied the game on a free-throw with 34 seconds remaining.

Jones then grabbed an offensive rebound after a missed Faulkner shot and put it against the glass for what proved to be the game-winner with 3.8 seconds remaining. “What a huge play by Tamara Jones to keep the ball alive, grab the rebound and put it back for the score,” said McNelis.
The Lady Eagles improved to 14-5 and 3-3 in conference play after refusing to lose their fourth consecutive game. ECU dropped to 16-3 and 4-2 in conference play.

Southern Miss will remain at home when the Lady Eagles host Middle Tennessee, the number one team in C-USA on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m.