Lady Eagles Fall in OT to North Alabama in Second Round of WBI

Lady Eagles Fall in OT to North Alabama in Second Round of WBI

HATTIESBURG, MS (USM) - The Lady Eagles fell in the second round of the WBI to North Alabama, 69-65.

The Lady Eagles concluded the 2018-19 season on their home court in Reed Green Coliseum. The first quarter started off in Southern Miss’ favor, with the Lady Eagles winning the tip and Shonte Hailes putting in the first basket of the game. USM had a lead as large as eight before the Lions came back and brought it within one. The Lions proved they have some serious shooters from the three-point line, making six in the first half alone, with Emma Wallen going 4-for-6. From the first quarter on, the Lions kept the Lady Eagles within arms reach. The Lady Eagles consistently kept their lead until the fourth quarter. In the fourth, the crowd in Reed Green gave the Lady Eagles some much-needed momentum to try and stop the Lion offense. In the dying minute of the fourth, Hailes was fouled and went to the line, collecting two and evening the score at 61 with only :14.5 to play. The game moved into overtime, where Megan Brown hit a crucial three-pointer with three minutes on the clock. North Alabama then answered with a layup. A full minute went by without a dropped shot, until Emma Wallen of UNA hit a three-pointer. At 66-64, a foul was called on Southern Miss, and Ivy Wallen made the and-one. Alarie Mayze was then fouled and came away with one of her two. Emma Wallen and the Lions sealed the deal with two good free throw shots with zeros on the clock.

The Lady Eagles finish 18-14, with a 13-7 record in Reed Green, a 5-6 record on the road, and a 0-1 record when playing in a neutral setting, as well as 9-8 in conference play. Megan Brown finishes her Lady Eagle career with 1,030 points, 463 rebounds, 218 assists, 132 games played and 98 games started, with a 96-game streak of consecutive starts. She will go in the record book as the 27th Lady Eagle in the 1,000 point club and will rank 24th overall. Shonte Hailes finishes her junior season as the leading scorer of the team with 387 points, as well as the teams’ leader in assists with 132. Kelsey Jones finishes as the leading rebounder with 163.

The Lady Eagles overcame a lot in the 2018-19 season, but had a resilient and gritty squad. They started out 0-4 in conference play and finished it out 9-8 through the first round of the C-USA Championships in Frisco, Texas. They were on a tear for almost a full month, arguably as the hottest team in C-USA, beating a tough WKU team in their own arena and ending an extensive home win streak for the Toppers. They continued their tear on the road as they defeated Marshall. They then earned themselves an invitation to a postseason tournament they had not played in before in the WBI, and battled their way to a win against Nicholls in the first round. They fought tooth and nail in the second round against North Alabama, but couldn’t shake it out. Their resiliency kept the Lady Eagles alive as the season went on.

Quotables from Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis

End of season thoughts “I’m proud of the growth that they made and what they were able to do for us. That’s the big picture of it. They have come a long way.”

On Megan Brown “Megan is a special young lady. Megan is someone who has really grown in every aspect of life. She has given her heart and soul not only to this program, but to this University, this community, and to each and every person on this team. I’m very proud of Megan and all that she has accomplished. She will be missed but she will always be a part of our family. She’s just special. There just aren’t many people like Megan Brown.”

On next season “Yesterday in practice, Shania Edgecombe made a move that was unbelievable and it was just like, ‘holy smoke, where did that come from?’. It’s just amazing when you see young players make a commitment and want to work a little bit extra. You just can’t be complacent and can’t be okay with where you are, and that’s something that we need the rest of our players to understand. Complacency will not help you improve, you have to get rid of complacency. That’s what we will do in this offseason - help them understand and help them to develop a path. In order to get that opportunity to play, you have to be steadfast, and that was our magic word today - ‘steadfast’. For us to be able to be successful, we have to be steadfast, no matter what comes your way and no matter what you face. That’s going to be a mainstay with this young group, to be able to be true to what’s happened and keep your eyes on the ultimate goal.”