HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Lady Eagles went into the WNIT hoping to move on from the heart-breaking loss they suffered to Western Kentucky in the conference championship.
And Thursday night against Little Rock, they still could not accept the fact that they were not playing in the NCAA Tournament, and lost 72-62.
Head coach, Joye Lee-McNelis said, "I don't think mentally this team really overcame that. Yesterday's practice was the first day that we practiced. And I will tell you, it was ugly. And, we really played today the way we practiced. We really did, which was disappointing."
Southern Miss had control late in the game.
But, in the final few minutes, Little Rock started to pull away.
"We did not execute in the final three minutes of the game, and they did. That's when they busted it open. We turned the ball over. We missed shots at the rim. It's an exact mirror image of what we did in the conference championship," said Lee-McNelis.
Guard, Brittanny Dinkins probably did not want her final season to end this early.
But, she will forever have her name in the record books as she finished her career 6th all-time in steals, 10th all-time in career points, 2nd all-time in single season points, and the list goes on.
"This season meant a lot. Not even based off the career that I had, but just the responsibilities I had to take on as a leader. Everything that's in the record books is set and stone. So, basically that's me leaving my legacy," said Dinkins.
Before the season started, critics said this team would struggle because they are undersized. But, despite that disadvantage, the Lady Eagles finished the year with a (23-11) overall record, and won nine out of their last 11 games.
"I think our team is a direct reflection of the lady sitting next to me. And, she won't ever get enough credit because I think that just comes with the territory of being a head coach. But, the character of this woman, being a fighter, being someone that's going to bring their best when other people count them out. I think that was reflected in the players that she had on the court. And, so as long as you got her as the head (coach), I think this team has a lot to look forward to,” said guard, Megan Brown.