HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Middle Tennessee (14-6, 8-2 C-USA) struggled down the stretch and fell, 70-65, in overtime to Southern Miss (14-7, 7-3 C-USA).
Thursday’s contest was back and forth for 40 minutes with neither team willing to give in.
The first half was a see-saw exchange with both teams trading the lead multiple times before the break. Middle Tennessee jumped in front early, getting out to a 12-4 lead at the 14:23 mark of the first half.
That eight-point lead was the most either team would have in the first half, as both teams traded baskets. The Blue Raiders led at the break, 26-25.
The start of the second half was strong for Middle Tennessee, pushing their lead back to eight before the under-12 media timeout.
The Blue Raiders led by as many as nine in the second half, after a jump shot by sophomore Olivia Jones pushed the lead to 45-36 at the under-eight timeout.
The Golden Eagles responded, however, cutting down the lead slowly. USM eventually tied the game at 56 on a basket by Jerontay Clemons with 14 seconds left.
In overtime, it was all Southern Miss, as they capitalized early to regain the lead. The Golden Eagles converted their free throws down the stretch to secure the home victory.
Senior transfer Cheyenne Parker led the way for Middle Tennessee after finishing with 23 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Parker was in foul trouble all night and earned her fifth foul and spot on the bench in the last three minutes of overtime, leaving the Blue Raiders without their biggest weapon in crunch time.
Senior Shanice Cason earned herself a double-double, finishing with ten points and ten rebounds in the game. Jones was the only other Blue Raider to finish in double figures as she finished with 11 points on the night.
Middle Tennessee finished with a dismal 36.5 shooting percentage after going 23-of-63 from the field. Southern Miss finished at 44.3 percent on 27-of-61 shooting.
From three-point range, Middle Tennessee shot 7-of-34, a troublesome number for MTSU coach Rick Insell’s squad. Southern Miss was not much better, finishing 3-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Tamara Jones led the Golden Eagles on the night with 22 points. Jones also grabbed 12 boards to record a double-double.
Jerontay Clemons finished with a double-double as well. Clemons brought down 10 rebounds and scored 20 points, including the game-tying basket in the final seconds of regulation.
The Blue Raiders continue their tough slate of conference games on Saturday with a match-up at Louisiana Tech. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.
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