Hattiesburg, MS – The Southern Miss women’s basketball team placed five players in double figure scoring while shooting 53.5 percent from the field in running past West Alabama in an exhibition game Saturday 90-49.
Redshirt sophomore Jayla King led the group with 20 points while junior Brittanny Dinkins had 13. Freshman Caitlin Jenkins recorded a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds, Brittny Norris and Lashyra Cotton each added 11 points.
“When you look at this game, we have to be pleased but not satisfied with our team,” Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis said. “For the simple reason is we have so many new players as we have, we put 90 points on the board, we shot the ball very well and we rebound the ball very well. We have a lot of pieces to our puzzle and chemistry is something we’re going to have to continue to work on. We are a long way from there, but it’s just something we got to build on.
The Lady Eagles shot 59.1 percent in the open period in taking an early lead. Southern Miss used its transition game to build as many as a 13-point lead. The Lady Eagles outscored West Alabama 20-6 on points in the paint.
“We saw some unbelievable bright spots in our two freshmen Keri Jewett and Caitlin Jenkins and newcomers Brittny Norris and Jayla King,” McNelis said. “Five players in double digits is huge and that’s something we can build on.”
In the second quarter, the Lady Eagles cooled off and shot 50 percent from the field, but a stifling defense held the Tigers to just six points on 14.3 percent shooting from the field in the quarter.
The Lady Eagles started third quarter scoring the first six point in the first three minutes, but then hit a cold shooting spree. Both teams combined for 18 total points. Southern Miss shot just 35.7 percent while West Alabama shot 30 percent.
“The most disappointing thing is the 18 turnovers. That can’t happen for us to be successful and we have to be able to eliminate that,” said McNelis. “Once again, proud of where we are, but not satisfied. I was pleasantly surprised at how we played because our practices have not been what they needed to be.”
The Lady Eagles appeared to get back on track in the fourth quarter, finishing with 26 points on 64.7 percent shooting from the field. The home team scored 13 points off seven UWA turnovers.
“This should build confidence in us,” McNelis said. “Our defense created some easy baskets in transition. We showed we have to ability to run and so we will grow from this, continue to learn and get ready for Alabama State, a team who played in the Big Dance last year.”
Ariel Wilson led West Alabama with 17 points while Catherine Taylor chipped in 11.
The Lady Eagles finished the game with 52 points in the paint, 34 points off turnovers and 18 fast break points.
Southern Miss will tip-off the regular season on Nov. 13 in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT with an 11 a.m. game against Alabama State in the annual Education Day.