The Lady Eagles pulled out a 60-57 overtime win against UTSA in a gritty, defensive slugfest that catapulted the team to first place in the Conference USA western division.
Melyia Grayson, the recent C-USA Player of the Week, led the way with twelve points and ten rebounds before falling to an eye injury late in the game. This left room for senior Kelsey Jones to take over in the frontcourt.
Only playing fourteen minutes the entire game, Jones made sure her time in the game mattered. Stepping up late into overtime, she forced a charge with twenty-three seconds left and immediately followed it up with the go-ahead layup assisted by Domonique Davis.
“Two games ago against FIU, we win it in regulation at the buzzer with Domonique Davis. This time, we ran it in overtime with Davis delivering the ball to Kelsey Jones on the backscreen – that’s growth,” Head Coach Joye-Lee McNelis said.
Outside of the heart Jones displayed Monday night, the game was plagued by scoring droughts, fierce loose ball battles and missed shot after missed shot.
With 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Lady Eagles didn’t score a field goal for the last two minutes and 37 seconds. UTSA also had a scoring drought of around two minutes in the fourth quarter.
An early bright spot was Southern Miss’s peskiness in the passing lanes, constantly trying to disrupt the Roadrunner’s offense.
The defense also applied pressure early on and forced a backcourt violation early in the first quarter.
This came to be a difference-maker as Southern Miss had 27 points off turnovers compared to the Roadrunner’s 15.
Other offensive bursts came from the play of senior guard Destiny Smith.
Smith rushed to a fast start, scoring a quick layup after Southern Miss won the tip-off and netted the first four points for Southern Miss.
She answered again in overtime as she hit a mid-range jumper to give the Lady Eagles their first lead in the closing minutes.
Southern Miss and the Roadrunners matched whatever each other did. Their field goal makes and attempts were oddly similar, with Southern Miss having 23-65 and UTSA with 23-68.
Finishing with ten points, UTSA guard Jadyn Pimentel was an issue for Southern Miss’s defense as she hit the go-ahead layup to send the game into overtime.
The Lady Eagles continue their dominance over the UTSA program, with the last loss to the Roadrunners being in 2016.
The Lady Eagles will now prepare for a critical game against UAB Thursday night, Feb. 10 at Reed Green Coliseum at 6 p.m.
Lee-McNelis encourages the community to come to support the team, whose players have worked hard all year, and the results are showing with a 15-7 record.