Dwayne Davis drives to the basket. (AP Photo/Hattiesburg American, Ryan Moore)
March 2, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss took control in the second half on its way to an 88-69 win over East Carolina, Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum
Southern Miss improves to 22-7 overall, 11-5 in Conference USA. The victory clinches the No. 2 seed in the Conference USA Tournament and ties the school record for the most C-USA victories in a season.
Neil Watson led Southern Miss with a game-high 26 points. Watson was perfect for the night, hitting all seven of his shots, which all came from three, and hitting 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Jonathan Mills recorded his fifth double-double of the year and the 11th of his career, scoring 15 points and grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds. Dwayne Davis had 17 points and nine boards and Daveon Boardingham added 12 points.
The Golden Eagles led just 36-31 at the half. ECU cut the lead to three early in the second half. The teams then traded baskets. Boardingham then led Southern Miss on a 14-3 run, scoring six of the points to give the Golden Eagles a 52-38 lead 6:36 into the stanza.
East Carolina followed with two free throws by Maurice Kemp and a three-pointer from Akeem Richmond cut the deficit to nine. Mills hit one-of-two free throws, but Kemp connected on a jumper to cut the deficit to eight.
A three-pointer from Watson and a jumper from Rashard McGill pushed the lead back to 13. Miguel Paul hit a pair of free throws, but Watson hit another three-pointer to give Southern Miss a 61-47 lead.
The Pirates could only get as close as 13 points the rest of the way, as Southern Miss led by as many as 23.
East Carolina took the early lead on a Kemp jumper. After two free throws from Boardingham, Mills went the length of the court for a layup, followed by a three-pointer from Watson to give Southern Miss 7-2 lead.
Kemp cut the lead to three with a jumper, but both teams went scoreless over the next 2:22. Watson and Kemp each hit a pair of free throws and Richmond hit a three to tie the game at nine 50 seconds later.
After the teams traded jumpers, Watson drained a three-pointer. Kemp hit a jumper, but Cedric Jenkins made it 17-13 with a three-pointer with 11:34 to play. However, Kemp scored five straight points to give ECU its first lead of the game, 18-17.
After an East Carolina turnover, Jerrold Brooks hit a three and Davis followed with a jumper to give the Golden Eagles a 22-18 lead. But the Pirates scored seven straight points to take a 25-22 lead.
Mills hit a jumper, but a three from Paris Roberts-Campbell pushed the lead to four with 4:14 to play in the first half. But Southern Miss closed the half on 12-3 run to go into the break with a 36-31 lead.
Southern Miss shot 52.7-percent (29-of-55) from the field, including 65.0-percent (13-of-20) from three. The 13 three-pointers tie the most ever by Southern Miss in a Conference USA game. ECU was held to just 23-of-54 (42.6%) shooting and 8-of-23 (34.8%) from three. The Black and Gold also outrebounded the Pirates, 42-to-23.
Southern Miss goes on the road for the final time in the regular season next Tuesday, Mar. 5, when it travels to Huntington, W.V., to face Marshall. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised by CBS College Sports.
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