Late rally propels USM past Tulsa

Junior forward Tamara Jones finishes in traffic to score two of her 40 points Saturday afternoon against Tulsa. Hunt Mercier/Printz
Junior forward Tamara Jones finishes in traffic to score two of her 40 points Saturday afternoon against Tulsa.
Hunt Mercier/Printz

The Southern Miss Lady Eagles got off to a slow start Saturday against Tulsa, but a strong second half helped Southern Miss improve to 19-5 overall and 8-3 in league play with a 91-73 victory while Tulsa dropped to 10-12 and 4-7. The victory gave Southern Miss its first win against Tulsa in four games.

“The start of this game was absolutely frustrating,” said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “We didn’t get off to a good start. We challenged some of them and they loafed going up and down the floor. It took strong challenges to make them respond. Voche’ Martin stepped up and showed maturity after the way we challenged her in practice and during this game.”

Both teams opened the game missing a combined seven shots. Tulsa got on track first and took a 5-0 lead. Faulkner hit a three for the Lady Eagles’ first points. The teams traded baskets for three possessions before the Golden Hurricanes scored five unanswered points pushing their lead to 14-7.

The Lady Hurricanes heated up and outscored Southern Miss 13-5 and took a 27-14 lead. The Lady Eagles were able to cut that lead using an 18-5 run to make it 34-32 with 3:26 remaining before halftime. Tulsa led 43-42 at the half on 57.1 percent shooting from the field including 62.5 percent from behind the arc.

Junior Tamara Jones scored a game-high 40 points off the bench for the second time this season. Senior Jamierra Faulkner added a double-double, racking up 13 points and dishing 14 assists leading Southern Miss past Tulsa.
“What a performance today by Tamara Jones,” said Lee-McNelis. “She came off the bench and I thought she played very well offensively and got a lot of key boards. I thought (the) Tam-Jam show was back today. I thought Jamierra Faulkner did a tremendous job of distributing the ball, playing on two feet and making plays to create plays for others.”

Jerontay Clemons and Voche’ Martin scored 11 and 10 points, respectively for the Lady Eagles. Jones seemed to grab everything that bounced off the rim as she had a team-best 10 rebounds to give her a double-double.
Southern Miss went on another big run, outscoring Tulsa 18-1 over a 5:01 span to go from a three-point deficit to a 14-point advantage. Tulsa led 55-52 with 14:05 remaining in the game when Clemons found Jones in the paint for the bucket.

Faulkner then stole the ball from the Tulsa point guard, and assisted Martin on a layup. Jones connected on a pair of free throws followed by back-to-back baskets coming from Martin and Jones that included an and-one play by Jones.

Martin sank a pair of free throws before Jones connected on her third three of the game.

Brittanny Dinkins capped the run with two free throws to give Southern Miss a 70-56 lead.

Southern Miss finished the game shooting 53.8 percent from the field and 94.4 percent from the line and held a slight rebounding edge, 34-31. The Lady Eagles also had 15 second-chance points and scored 20 points off 17 Tulsa turnovers.

Southern Miss will hit the road for a pair of Conference USA games against new conference members FIU and Florida Atlantic on Feb. 19 and Feb. 22, respectively.