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Southern Miss Knocks off Memphis, 75-72; Snap 18-Game Losing Streak to the Tigers

Jonathan Mills shoots over Memphis defenders. (AP Photo/Hattiesburg American, Ryan Moore)

Feb. 1, 2012

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss connected on eight straight free throws in the final 2:30 to defeat Memphis 75-72 and snap an 18-game losing streak to the Tigers.

It was the first win over Memphis since 2004. Southern Miss improves to 20-3 on the season, 7-1 in Conference USA. Memphis falls to 15-7, 6-2.

The victory gave Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy his fourth 20-win season, tying him with M.K. Turk and Lee Floyd for the most 20-win seasons in Southern Miss history.

Darnell Dodson led the Golden Eagles with 23 points and six rebounds. Neal Watson scored 17 points and had six assists and LaShay Page recorded his first career double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down a game and career-high 10 points.

"This was a long time coming," said Eustachy. "It was a bang-bang finish. I'm just so proud of Mo (Bolden) and Torye (Pelham). They didn't play many minutes, but they are the reason that we won. They've been here the longest, and they were so good from the bench. I've had this before and for them to experience it is unbelievable."

Southern Miss came out sluggish, while the Tigers came out strong, scoring the game's first seven points and pushing the lead to 16-4 seven minutes in. But the Golden Eagles slowly worked their way back into the game.

A three-pointer by Page began an 11-2 run that cut the deficit to five. After a three by Chris Crawford pushed it back to eight, Watson and Jonathan Mills hit four straight free throws to make it four-point game with less than eight minutes to play in the half.

Southern Miss twice got it to three, but a three-point play by Joe Jackson made it 30-24 with 4:05 left.

But a jumper by Page sent the Golden Eagles on a 10-0 run, as Pelham gave USM its first lead of the game on a three-pointer with 1:45 to play. Page earned a three-point play to make it a four-point game, but a Crawford three at the buzzer sent Southern Miss into halftime with a 34-33 lead.

The teams traded baskets throughout the second half, as neither team led by more than four points through the nine minutes. With Memphis holding a 49-45 lead, the Golden Eagles went on a 14-5 run over the next six minutes to take a 59-54 advantage, its largest of the game.

The Tigers got to within 61-60 with 3:01 to play, but the teams traded baskets over the next two minutes. With USM up 71-67 with 34 seconds left, Jackson hit a layup and then stole the ball from Watson and was fouled by Page. However, with a chance to tie the game, Jackson connected on just one-of-two free throws.

Dodson then hit four straight from the charity stripe, and Crawford's last second three-point attempt to tie the game bounced off the rim, securing the victory for the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss shot 41.1-percent (23-of-56) from the floor and 33.3-percent (5-of-15) from three-point range. However, the Golden Eagles connected on 24-of-27 (88.9%) from the free throw line. Memphis hit 56.3-percent (27-of-48) of its shots and 76.5-percent (13-of-17) from the charity stripe. The Black and Gold dominated the rebounding battle, 36-to-23, including 16 offensive boards, and outscored the Tigers from the bench, 45-to-20.

Southern Miss will take a week off before traveling to Birmingham, Ala., next Wednesday, February 8, to face UAB. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.

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