Southern Miss advances to C-USA quarterfinals behind Edwards' 29 points
FRISCO, Texas -- Southern Miss junior guard Cortez Edwards went 10-for-16 from the field, and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line, to match a career-high 29 points as the Golden Eagles held off FIU, 69-68, in the first round of the C-USA Championships on Wednesday.
"These guys have been up against a wall the last few years, and they just fight," head coach Doc Sadler said. "In my opinion, there is not a team in the country that deserves the opportunity they've given themselves by winning this ballgame today."
The Golden Eagles led 32-25 at the half and opened the second period on an 11-3 run, giving them their largest lead at 43-28 with 16:10 to play. FIU clawed back to take a 51-50 lead with 6:43 to go, its first since the 11:30 mark of the first half. Dominic Magee's free-throw with 2:51 put Southern Miss up for good, and D'Angelo Richardson connected on a three-pointer with 1:45 to play for a four-point lead.
Edwards' final field goal of the night gave Southern Miss a 66-60 lead with 15 seconds left. FIU pulled out a three-point play on a layup with three seconds remaining, but Edwards hit two more free-throws that preceded a Brian Beard, Jr. half-court shot at the buzzer for the final 69-68 decision.
Beard scored 30 points and added seven assists for the Panthers (14-18, 7-11 C-USA).
Southern Miss (15-17, 7-11 C-USA) now takes on No. 1-seeded Middle Tennessee at 6 p.m. on Thursday night. The game can be found on STADIUM's Live College Basketball page on Facebook.
"We just have to finish the game [against Middle Tennessee]," Sadler said. "At our place [on Feb. 15], we were down two with four minutes to go and couldn't score. It's not going to be easy, but we have that opportunity. We have got to be able to make every possession on both ends count."
-Cortez Edwards recorded his 10th, 20-point game. He also had 21 in the regular-season finale win over LA Tech and against Rice in last year's C-USA Tournament opener.
-Edwards now has 911 points in his career.
-Edwards also had 21 points in the regular-season finale versus LA Tech and against Rice in last year's C-USA Tournament opener.
-Senior D'Angelo Richardson scored 11 points off the bench, including a career-high three deep balls on just four attempts.
-Richardson has scored in double-figures six times in his two years at Southern Miss, and the team has won all of them.
-Dominic Magee pulled down a career-high 14 rebounds.
-Southern Miss' 27 free-throw attempts were its most since Feb. 3 at Florida Atlantic. The team is 5-0 when getting 25 or more tries in a game.
-The two teams have just six all-time head-to-head meetings, beginning in the 2014-15 season, and five of those have been decided by single-digits.
-The last one-point Southern Miss win came on Nov. 24, 2008 against Iona in the US Virgin Islands.