Jan. 26, 2013
TULSA, Okla. - Jonathan Mills connected on three-of-four free throws in the final nine seconds as Southern Miss hung on to defeat Tulsa, 62-59, Saturday afternoon.
It was the ninth straight victory for the Golden Eagles, who improved to 17-4 overall and 6-0 in Conference USA. The win tied the record for the best conference start in school history with the 1990-91, who started 6-0 in the Metro Conference.
"(The game) was a grinder," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "We knew it was going to be a very, very tough environment. Tulsa's a very good defensive team. We struggled to get good looks and we never really got in rhythm offensively. But we found a way to make one of two more plays than they did and come away with a win."
Southern Miss led 31-30 at the half. Tulsa quickly scored six straight points to take a 36-31 lead. After Michael Craig hit a jumper from the free throw line, Scottie Haralson drilled three-pointer to give the Golden Hurricane its largest lead of the game, 39-32, just 3:44 into the second half.
The Golden Eagles then went on a 13-1 run over the next 7:02 to take a 46-40 lead with nine minutes remaining in the game.
After a pair of free throws from Zeldric King, Craig hit a layup. The teams then traded a pair free throws before Brooks drilled a three-pointer. Shaquille Harrison hit one-of two free throws before Davis hit both of his to give Southern Miss its largest lead of the second half, 55-47, with 6:19 to play in the game.
But a three-pointer from Pat Swilling, Jr. sent Tulsa on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 55-54. After Davis hit the first of two free throws, Mills corralled the rebound and got the ball to Boardingham, who laid it up for a 58-54 lead.
However, Swilling nailed another three to cut the lead to 58-57 with 1:48 to play. The game remained that way until 19 seconds remaining, when Neil Watson hit one-of-two throws, followed by a pair from Mills. After Watson fouled Harrison, he hit both free throws to make it a two-point game with seven seconds left. Mills was immediately fouled on the inbounds and hit one-of-two free throws to push the lead to three. But James Woodard, despite being down by three, attempted a jumper that missed and Southern Miss came away with the victory.
The teams opened the game trading three-pointers. After a layup from Daveon Boardingham, Kauri Black hit one-of-two free throws, followed by a three-pointer from Tim Woodard to give Tulsa a 7-5 lead.
Neil Watson then hit a three-pointer, but Tulsa regained the lead at 9-8 on a Woodard jumper six minutes into the game. However, a three-pointer from Cedric Jenkins sent the Golden Eagles on a 15-3 run over the next 5:15 to give Southern Miss its biggest lead of the first half, 23-12.
But, the Golden Hurricane came right back, scoring the next ten points to pull within one point with 5:36 to play in the half.
The Black and Gold pushed its lead out to five points on baskets from Dwayne Davis and Boardingham. Black connected on three-of-four free throws to pull within two points.
After the teams traded baskets, Jerrold Brooks drove the length of the court to give Southern Miss a four-point lead. But Rashad Ray's three-pointer with 55 seconds left send the Golden Eagles into halftime clinging to a 31-30 lead.
Southern Miss will take a week off before traveling to Birmingham, Ala., this Saturday, February 2, to face UAB. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT and will be televised by CSS.
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