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Southern Miss Pulls Away to Upend Montana State, 68-60

Jan. 24, 2009

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss held back a late Montana State run, holding on to defeat the Bobcats, 68-60, Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum

Craig Craft had game-highs of 20 points and nine rebounds to lead the Golden Eagles (12-6, 2-2 C-USA). It was his third straight 20-point game. Courtney Beasley scored 18 points, and R.L. Horton added 13.

"I know that this is the most physical-minded team in the (Big Sky Conference)," said head coach Larry Eustachy. "We were fortunate to come away with a win tonight. Give our guys credit. We made some plays at the end. But, our team was not ready to go tonight."

Divaldo Mbunda's jumper to open the second half gave Montana State (9-9, 3-4 Big Sky) its largest lead at 34-31. However, Courtney Beasley scored nine points in an 18-7 run over 10:30, leading the Golden Eagles to their largest lead of the game, 49-39.

However, the Bobcats came right back, going on a 13-2 run to pull within 52-50 with 5:36 to play in the game.

Jumpers by Craft and Horton, followed by two Horton free throws extended the Southern Miss lead to 58-50. A lay-up by Mbunga and a jumper by Will Bynum made it 58-54, but that's as close as Montana State would get.

The first half was a back and forth affair that saw neither team hold a lead of more than six points. The Golden Eagles led 9-3, when Bobby Howard connected on a four-point play to make it 9-7. R.L Horton hit a jumper to make it 11-7, but the Bobcats scored six of the next eight points to tie the game at 13.

However, Craig Craft hit two-straight three-pointers, and the teams traded baskets, as Southern Miss held a 23-20 with 9:22 to play.

But, jumpers by Will Bynum and Erik Rush gave Montana State its first lead with eight minutes left since holding a 4-3 advantage.

Craft and Jeremy Wise hit jumpers to give Southern Miss a 27-24 lead. But, after trading baskets, MSU scored six of the final eight points of the half to hold a 32-31 lead at the break, despite committing 11 turnovers in the half.

Bynum led Montana State with 15 points, while Mbunga and Bobby Howard each added 12 points and six rebounds.

The Golden Eagles return to conference play next Tuesday, Jan. 27, when they host Marshall in a regionally-televised game on CSS. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT.

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