Middle Tennessee’s women (9-5, 3-1) fell flat late in Thursday’s contest at Murphy Center and couldn’t recover, losing to Southern Mississippi (10-5, 3-1) in overtime 77-75.
The first half Thursday was a back and forth battle between Middle Tennessee and USM, as both teams traded the lead 11 times in the first 20 minutes. Neither team would lead by more than four in the first half, but the Blue Raiders finished the first frame on a 6-0 run to take a 29-25 lead into the break.
The second half was all Blue Raiders, and a big victory seemed imminent as Middle lead by as many as 19 with less than 12 minutes in the contest. A late surge by the Golden Eagles and a key 22-7 run would propel Southern Miss into the lead with under a minute left in the game. The Blue Raiders used a huge layup by sophomore Olivia Jones with four seconds left in the game to force overtime at the Murphy Center.
Southern Miss would control overtime, with the Golden Eagles jumping out to as much as a five-point lead with a minute left in the extra period. The Blue Raiders would rally again late only fall just short and lose by two points, bringing the final score to 77-75. The loss was an unexpected one for Middle Tennessee.
The key to Southern Miss’s comeback was the stellar performance by Tamara Jones. Jones poured in 35 points on 12-of-18 shooting, adding six rebounds and four steals. Jerontay Clemons would also score in double figures for the Golden Eagles, adding 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, making 7-of-10 at the line.
Three Blue Raiders were strong throughout the night, combining for 56 of the Blue Raiders’ 75 points. Sophomore Ty Petty led the way, scoring 20 points and adding two steals. Sophomore Olivia Jones continued her strong streak of performances, scoring 19 points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds. Freshman Abbey Sissom had her best performance of the year Thursday, scoring a career-high 17 points, hitting five three’s in the game.
Middle Tennessee was strong passing the ball, assisting on 16 of their 25 made baskets. Shooting was strong for the Blue Raiders in the first and second half, but faltered in overtime, making only 2-of-8 attempts on 25% shooting.
The Blue Raiders will look to rebound on Saturday against Louisiana Tech in the Murphy Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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