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Southern Miss Closes out Perfect Home Record with 67-60 Victory over SMU

Maurice Bolden became the 26th player in school history with 500 rebounds.

Maurice Bolden became the 26th player in school history with 500 rebounds.

Feb. 29, 2012

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss had all nine players score on its way to a 67-60 victory over SMU, Wednesday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

With the victory, the Golden Eagles closed out its home portion of the regular season schedule with a perfect 15-0 record. Southern Miss improves to 24-6 on the year and 11-4 in Conference USA. The 24 wins set a new record for most wins since joining Division I. The victory, along with UAB's win over Tulsa, clinched a top two seed in next week's Conference USA Tournament.

Neil Watson led all scorers with 18 points. Maurice Bolden scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds, making him the 26th player in school history with 500 rebounds. Jonathan Mills had nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds and Angelo Johnson added nine points and five assists.

"We thought that we could go get some offensive rebounds, and that that would be the difference," said head coach Larry Eustachy. "We're not shooting the ball well. We're going to get out of it, but that's our game anyway. Our best offense is going to get (the ball)."

Southern Miss led 37-29 at the half. USM immediately pushed the lead to 10 in the first minute of play. But two straight three-pointers by Robert Nyakundi made it a four point game. After Bolden then one-of-two free throws, the teams traded baskets. However, a Jalen Jones free throw followed by a jumper from Cannen Cunningham, pulled the Mustangs to within two points, 42-40 with 13:30 left to play.

Two straight lay-ups by Watson pushed the lead to six, but another three-pointer by Nyakundi made it a three-point game. Bolden's jumper 40 seconds later made it a five-point game, but a three by Shawn Williams pulled SMU back to within two, 48-46, with 7:54 remaining.

But the Golden Eagles went on an 11-3 run over the next 5:28 to lead 59-49 with just over two minutes remaining. SMU would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.

Southern Miss started the game on fire, scoring the game's first eight points before taking a 15-4 lead. But, the Mustangs went on a 9-2 run on three three-pointers to make it a 17-13 game just under eight minutes in.

Southern Miss then went on its own 9-2 run to push the lead back to nine points. SMU pulled to within five points, but lay-ups by Johnson and Mills made it 30-21 with 3:53 to play. But the Golden Eagles couldn't pull away, as they led by just six at the break.

Nyakundi scored 18 points and had a team-high six rebounds for SMU. Jeremiah Samarrippas had 13 points and Clinkscales added 10.

Southern Miss shot 52.2%-percent (24-of-46) from the field, but were just 3-of-13 (23.1%) from three-point range. It was also 16-of-23 (69.6%) from the free throw line. SMU shot 45.5-percent (20-of-44) from the floor and 47.8-percent (11-of-23) from three-point range, but was just 9-of-16 from the charity stripe. The Black and Gold held a big advantage on the boards, 38-to-18, and in the paint, 38-to-18.

Southern Miss closes out the 2011-12 regular season this Saturday, March 3, when it travels to Huntington, W.V. to face Marshall. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. CT and will be nationally-televised on FoxSportsNet.

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