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Southern Miss women come from behind to upset UAB in WNIT opening round

Domonique Davis celebrates during the Lady Eagles' win over UAB on Wednesday night (Photo courtesy of USM Athletics)

Trailing by 10 points after three quarters, the Southern Miss women’s basketball team dug into their motto of “True Grit” to come from behind and upset a familiar foe in round one of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) on Wednesday.

Behind a heroic fourth quarter from center Melyia Grayson that included 14 points, the Lady Eagles outscored the University of Alabama at Birmingham 31-16 in the final period of play to win 79-74 and advance to the next round.

How it happened

The Lady Eagles (19-13) started cold and progressively got worse throughout the game, scoring on free throws with 7:31 left in the first period and hitting a field goal with 5:30 near the end of the frame. Despite falling behind 17-4 in the first, USM fought back to close the deficit 22-18 in the first and 36-32 at the half.

Coming back out of the gates, Southern Miss cut the lead to 41-40 in favor of the Lady Blazers (18-14) with six minutes left in the third period, but missed shots and turnovers allowed UAB to take control for the rest of the period. UAB led 58-48 at the end of the third frame.

When Grayson finally broke the seal offensively during the fourth period, USM’s defense would not let up on UAB, forcing five turnovers in the last five minutes to secure the victory and move on in the tournament.

What the coach said

After the game in Hattiesburg, Southern Miss head coach Joye Lee-McNelis met with the press and discussed a few things, most notably that her team was able to win with only seven players dressed out after the transfer portal opened earlier in the week.

“What a basketball game. To score 31 points in the fourth quarter is amazing,” Lee-McNelis said. “There are definitely a couple of words to remember this group by: [One is] relentless. This group is definitely relentless. The greatest thing about tonight was when we were down, we never quit fighting. [Two is] courage. I think these girls played with a lot of courage, and I can’t say enough of how proud I am of them.”

McNelis, who is battling cancer, has now coached in over 1,000 career games.

Numbers don’t lie

While the Lady Eagles won the shooting percentage battle with a 50.8% clip, they also beat the Blazers in rebounding (41-34) and destroyed UAB in points from the paint (50-18). Grayson had a career night, scoring a double-double with 22 points and 16 rebounds. 10 of her boards came on the offensive side.

As usual, Domonique Davis led all scorers with 26 points for USM while chipping in four assists. Jacorriah Bracey finished with a double-double scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Next up

Southern Miss will host Murray State, who had a first-round bye, on Saturday in Hattiesburg. The game is at 5 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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