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Southern Miss Drops Regular Season Finale to UTEP, 81-70

Craig Craft scored 12 points to become the 33rd Golden Eagle to record 1,000 career points.

Craig Craft scored 12 points to become the 33rd Golden Eagle to record 1,000 career points.

March 7, 2009

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. --Southern Miss got down early and could not recover, as the Golden Eagles dropped their regular season finale, 81-70, to UTEP, Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

With the loss, the Golden Eagles take the 11th-seed in next week's Conference USA Tournament. Southern Miss will face sixth-seeded UCF, Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at FedExForum in Memphis, Tenn.

R.L. Horton led Southern Miss with 21 points. Courtney Beasley recorded his sixth double-double of the year, scoring 16 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Jeremy Wise had 15 points and six rebounds, and Craig Craft added 12 points to become the 33rd Golden Eagle to score 1,000 career points.

Southern Miss started slow out of the gate, hitting just two of its first nine shots. An Andre Stephens jumper 4:39 in to the game pulled them within two points. But, the Miners went on a 10-2 run over the next 2:59 to take an 18-8 advantage.

The teams traded baskets before a Stefon Jackson three-pointer gave UTEP a 30-17 lead with 7:29 to play in the half.

Southern Miss went on a 9-3 run, cutting the deficit to 33-26 with 3:24 to play. But, the Miners closed the half on a 12-3 run, capped off by a Randy Culpepper three-pointer with four seconds on the clock.

A three-pointer by Jason Jones to open the second half gave the Miners its largest lead of the game. Southern Miss tried to fight back, but they could not get closer than nine points.

Stefon Jackson led all scorers with 30 points, while grabbing five rebounds. Randy Culpeper scored 23 points and Arnett Moultrie added six rebounds for the Miners.

UTEP shot 56.0-percent (28-50) from the field, while holding Southern Miss to just 41.1-percent (23-56). The Golden Eagles held the rebounding advantage, 36-28.

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