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Southern Miss Opens Season with Hard-Fought 67-64 Overtime Victory over Western Kentucky

Dwayne Davis had 11 points against Western Kentucky.

Dwayne Davis had 11 points against Western Kentucky.

Nov. 10, 2012

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss scored nine points in overtime, all on free throws, but it was enough to give head coach Donnie Tyndall his first victory, as the Golden Eagles won, 67-64, over Western Kentucky, Saturday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

The victory gave Southern Miss its 16th straight win at home, which is the seventh longest in the country. The Golden Eagles have also won their last eight season-openers.

"I'm as proud of this team as I am of any other," said Tyndall. "I'm very proud of this team and the effort they gave. To come into the game with two guys injured, and then to have four foul out, we certainly have a lot of things that we have to clean up. But, I can't fault our effort. We did all of the tough things that we had to do against a real good Western Kentucky team."

Michael Craig had 13 point and seven rebound and Jerrold Brooks had 13 points, five rebounds and four steals. Dwayne Davis dropped in 11 points, while Deon Edwin added a team-high eight boards to go along with seven points.

Western Kentucky got the upper hand early in overtime, when Kevin Kaspar hit his fourth three-pointer of the game. Southern Miss then connected on seven straight free throws to take 65-61 lead. WKU pulled back to within one point when Jamal Crook converted a three-point play, but Brooks hit two straight free throws to make it a three-point game. The Hilltoppers had one final chance to tie the game, but O'Karo Akamune's three-point try was long, and Southern Miss held on.

Southern Miss came out of gate on fire, using a pair of three-pointers from Brooks and Davis to score the first 10 points of the game. After a three minute draught that saw neither team score, WKU finally got on the board on a George Fant jumper 6:09 into the game.

Play went back-and-forth as the teams traded baskets, but a pair of layups by Craig and Edwin gave Southern Miss its largest lead of the game, 24-10, with 6:47 to play.

The Hilltoppers then went on a 12-4 run over the next 4:33 to pull to within six points. But a dunk by Norville Carey sent the Golden Eagles in halftime with a 30-22 lead.

Southern Miss immediately pushed the lead to 10 in the second half on a Jonathan Mills jumper. But, Western Kentucky scored eight of the next nine points to make it a three-point game.

The Golden Eagles then scored eight straight points to take its largest lead of the second half. After missing its first 11 three-point attempts, WKU finally got one to go down by Kaspar. Following a pair of free throw by both teams, the Hilltoppers took advantage of two straight turnovers to score eight straight points and pull to within 45-43 with 9:07 to play.

Southern Miss went on a 10-3 run to push the lead back to 55-46, but WKU scored 10 straight points, capped off by a three-pointer by Kaspar with three minutes left to give the Hilltoppers their first lead of the game.

The Black and Gold hit three straight free throws to make it 58-56, but a pair of free throws by Fant sent the game into overtime.

Crook led the Hilltoppers with 17 points. Kaspar scored 13 and Fant added 10. T.J. Price pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Southern Miss shot 36.7-percent (22-of-60) from the floor and held WKU to 21-of-64 (32.8%) shooting. The Golden Eagles were also 70-percent (21-of-30) from the charity stripe, while Western Kentucky connected on just 16-of-30 (53.3%). Both teams pulled down 46 rebounds. Southern Miss also had 15 steals.

Southern Miss begins a four-game road trip next week when it travels to Athens, Ga., to face Georgia in the opening round of the Progressive Legends Classic, Thursday, Nov. 15.

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