Golden Eagles Hold Off Alabama A&M, 63-55
HATTIESBURG - A pair of postmen delivered for Southern Miss Monday night at Green Coliseum.
Sophomore forward Tim Rowe had a season-high 17 points and career-high nine rebounds, while senior forward Raheem Watts scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed five boards to help the Golden Eagles past Alabama A&M University 63-55.
"We had some positives in this game, definitely," Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said. "We had 21 baskets made, and assists on 18 of them, and you're always happy about that."
Southern Miss also outrebounded A&M 37-22 and knocked down a season-best 85 percent of their free throws (18 of 21).
Watts hit 7 of 8 free throws, while Rowe went 6 for 6 from the foul line.
"I think this can be a really good basketball team, but we've got a long way to go," Sadler said.
The Golden Eagles (3-1) remained unbeaten at home, while the Bulldogs (0-4) dropped their fourth consecutive road game to open the season.
The win, however didn't come easy.
A&M led by seven points twice in the first half before Southern Miss began pounding the ball inside. The Golden Eagles led 38-27 at halftime, with Watts scoring 13 points and Rowe adding 11 over the first 20 minutes.
"In the first half, we got the ball inside 11 times and scored on nine of them," Sadler said. "I like those odds."
Sadler also said he wants to see more out of the defense, despite allowing just 55 points.
"We have got to get that intensity defensively that every possession has got to be a stop," Sadler said, "and we're just not there yet."
Southern Miss led 47-36 on a pair of free throws by Robert Thomas III with 12:23 to play in the half, but a 9-0 run by A&M cut the lead to 47-45 at the 9:43 mark.
Rowe followed baskets by Michael Ramey and Eddie Davis III with a pair of his own down low as the Golden Eagles pushed the lead back to double digits.
But the Bulldogs kept nipping away. After a jumper in the lane by guard Kevin Holland put Southern Miss up 61-53, A&M guard De'Ederick Petty hit a 3-pointer and a driving bucket on back-to-back possessions to get the Bulldogs within 61-55 with 50 seconds to play.
But those were A&M's final points, and Rowe hit two free throws with 19.8 seconds to play for the Golden Eagles' final pad.
Petty led the Bulldogs with 10 points, while forward Quinterian McConico added eight points and six rebounds.
Southern Miss takes off for Thanksgiving before returning to the grind Nov. 30 against South Alabama in Reed Green Coliseum, the sixth home game of the month.
NOTES - Raheem Watts' other career-high 19-point game was in a Jan. 30 win over UTSA.
- Watts' 7-for-8 free-throw mark joins his 6-for-8 outputs against Tougaloo and Marshall in the past opener and finale, respectively.
- The 18 assists were the most by Southern Miss in a 40-minute game since Feb. 18 against UTEP.
- The team shot over 80 percent from the foul line for the first time since going 8-for-9 (88.9) on Feb. 18. One more make would have been the best outing since March 25, 2013.
- Kevin Holland's five assists were a season-high.