Nov. 21, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Southern Miss shot 60.4-percent from the field and used a stellar second half performance to defeat Liberty, 74-56, in the final game of the Progressive Legends Classic Sub-Regional.
Southern Miss has now started 5-0 in three of the last four seasons.
Jonathan Mills led all scorers with 18 points while pulling down a team-high eight rebounds. Dwayne Davis scored 14 points and had five assists and Norville Carey scored a season-high 13 points. Neil Watson also had a game-high seven assists.
"We tried to play the second half the right way," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "We started the game a little flat. But we had a good talk at halftime, got some things corrected and had a much better energy level in the second half. We did a better job of being more detailed, and our athleticism took over. I was very happy with our press and our defense pressure in the last 20 minutes."
The game was a back-and-forth affair from the start. Southern Miss twice took the lead in the first four minutes, only to have Liberty tie it. After a layup by Mills made it 6-4, Casey Roberts gave the Flames their only lead of the first half on a three-pointer.
But Mills, who had nine of Southern Miss' first 11 points, scored five straight points to give the Golden Eagles an 11-7 lead. After a pair of free throws by Davon Marshall, the Golden Eagles scored seven straight points to take an 18-9 lead midway through the first half. The teams then traded baskets through the rest of the half, as Liberty never got closer than five points but never trailed by more than nine.
Liberty twice pulled to within four points at the start of the second half. A layup by Carey followed by Deon Edwin's first three-pointer of the season made it a nine-point game. Chad Donley answered with a three-pointer to make it 38-32 just 4:27 into the second half. But the Golden Eagles went on an 11-0 run to take a 17-point lead and Southern Miss never looked back.
John Caleb Sanders led the Flames with 15 points and six rebounds. Tavares Speaks had 10 points and JR Coronado added a game-high nine rebounds.
Southern Miss was 29-of-48 from the field. It was the first time they shot 60.0-percent in a game since 2008. The Black and Gold was also 81.3-percent (13-of-16) from the charity stripe. Liberty was held to just 34.0-percent (17-of-50) from the field, including just 8-of-30 (26.7%) from three-point range. The Golden Eagles outrebounded Liberty, 31-to-24, and recorded 23 assists.
Southern Miss will return home for the first time in two weeks when it hosts Denver on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.
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