The Lady Eagles (4-2) picked up their first road win of the season Tuesday against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, 69-57.
Tennessee Tech struggled for the majority of the night to get things going. Just in the first half, the Golden Eagles shot 36.8 percent from the field. In addition, no player had more than four points.
“Our pressure defense was very good,” said head coach Joye Lee-McNelis. “For the first three quarters this team grew upinahurrytobeabletoget our first road win.”
With a starting backcourt of Jerontay Clemons, Brittany Dinkins and Tajanay Veiga, Lee-McNelis had a plethora of ball-stoppers to harass the Golden Eagle ball-handlers. The Lady Eagles caused 20 turnovers and scored 26 points off of their efforts on the defensive end.
“Our transition offense was very good in that first half,” Lee- McNelis said. “You have to give Tennessee Tech credit though. They made some adjustments and slowed us down. But we made basketball plays when that happened. It just showed this team making baby steps.”
The Lady Eagle offense was led by Brittany Dinkins, who scored 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. She also hit 3-of-6 shots from three-
point range and shot 4-of-5 from the free throw line. She made the plays when the Lady Eagles needed it, and provided leadership on offense.
“Tonight for three quarters we made some very good team plays,” Lee-McNelis said. “We passed up some shots to get better shots. We made the extra pass, we made things kind of happen for us.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, Southern Miss was up by a sizable margin of 57-38. But, the Golden Eagles were not going to go down without a fight.
Tennessee Tech fought from 21 points down at one point, and went on a 19-8 run to end the game. Turnovers and missed shots led to the Golden Eagles being able to crawl back into the game, but when they had to, the Lady Eagles relied on Dinkins to sink three straight free throws in the final minute to ice the game.
“We lost our focus and we played in panic mode,” Lee- McNelis said. “But you have to give Tennessee Tech credit because you know they’re going to make a run and we just didn’t play real poised.”
Talented freshman Caitlin Jenkins finished the contest with a near double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. The combination of Jenkins and King will be crucial to the Lady Eagles’ success this year in the post, due to the overall lack of shooting.
In the game, only three Lady Eagles attempted a shot from behind the arc. King expanded her range in the game as she hit both of her attempts, but more Lady Eagles will have to step out and take a shot from long range to become even more lethal of an offense.
“Jayla King is just Steady Eddie,” Lee-McNelis said. “Just running the floor and going that same pace and able to make some shots.”
King finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting, combined with five rebounds to round out
her stat line. King has become the most crucial and valuable Lady Eagle thus far, even more so than Jerontay Clemons to an extent.
Southern Miss will play South Alabama at home on Dec. 5 at 2p.m.