STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Lady Eagles were led by Shonte Hailes and Starkville native Kelsey Jones, but Southern Miss (1-1) fell to the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs of Mississippi State (1-0) on Saturday afternoon in Humphrey Coliseum, 91-58.
Southern Miss started out strong, winning the tip and having the first basket of the game scored by Shonte Hailes. The first quarter seemed like the full half instead of a 10 minute sliver because of the intensity on the court. Mississippi State held a slim 22-19 lead in that first quarter and ended up with a 49-32 edge at the half. The game got away from the Lady Eagles when the Bulldogs put up 27 points in the third. Southern Miss made a push back in the fourth and outscored MSU 16-15, but their fate was sealed. Despite the loss, the Lady Eagles played hard and never showed any quit.
The Lady Eagles were led by senior Shonte Hailes who had 18 points and three assists. Former Starkville High standout Kelsey Jones had 12 points and five rebounds. Imani Carter had a standout performance as she scored a career best nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and recorded one block. Freshman Liz Gibbs also made her name known tonight as she left the court going 2-for-5 overall and 2-for-2 from the free throw line. She also recorded two assists.
Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis
"That was the longest first quarter I've ever been a part of, it felt like the first half as hard as we played. I think we played as well as we could have in that first quarter and that's the truth of the matter. We played extremely well and we were within striking distance. I think the second and third quarters were the total opposite; they took control. I told them in the fourth quarter 'this is out of control, this is our goal: we've got to win the fourth quarter' and we did. We won it by one point. I told them 'the score is 0-0' and I told Shonte Hailes, 'this is your ball club and right now you've got to run the show, you've got to take control' and I thought she did a really good job."
"Imani and Liz were the two this week in practice that were difference makers. Liz can beat anybody off a bounce, it's just her decision making once she beats them and that's just being a freshman. We don't have anyone else that's a bucket-getter. It's truly Liz Gibbs. Liz does a great job of getting to the rim, she has great body control, she is shifty and the bottom line against a team like Mississippi State is you've got to have somebody who can be a bucket-getter. Liz Gibbs was that player. Imani has continued to make strides and I told her before the game she needed to be ready. I thought she did a great job. I felt like the two of them were major keys for us; Liz gave a punch of energy and Imani made drives to the basket, made good decisions with the ball in her hands...they were the super subs in this game."
The Lady Eagles return home for a bout with Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday, Nov. 13th at 6 p.m.
Madelon Allen is a communications graduate assistant at Southern Miss.