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Southern Miss Holds Off New Mexico State, 74-66

Neil Watson scored a season-high 15 points against New Mexico State.

Dec. 4, 2011

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss hit 7-ofof-8 free throws in the last three minutes of the game, holding off a late New Mexico State rally to earn its second victory this season over the Aggies, 74-66, Sunday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum.

The Golden Eagles also defeated NMSU, 80-72, in the Semifinals of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout.

Angelo Johnson led Southern Miss with 17 points and four assists. He also had five rebounds. LaShay Page scored 16 points and Neil Watson added a season-high 15 points. Watson also saw his consecutive made free throws streak snapped at 28. Torye Pelham contributed a game-high nine rebounds.

"We came out well, but we knew they would make a run," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy. "I really didn't think we played great, and I let the team know at halftime. I knew we had to play better. (New Mexico State) is really good. They made some runs, but we had some guys who were impressive and made some big plays down the stretch."

After a 9-0 run midway through the second half that gave Southern Miss (5-2) what seemed to be a comfortable 65-47 lead with 8:31 to play, the Eagles suddenly went cold, missing their final eight shots of the game. New Mexico State (5-3) scored the next 10 points to cut the lead to eight.

USM twice pushed the lead to 10 points, but the Aggies cut the lead to 69-62 on three free throws with 1:01 to play. But the Aggies would get no closer, as Southern Miss ran the clock down.

The Black and Gold started the game strong, scoring 13 of the first 15 points. New Mexico State brought the game to 20-12 midway through the first half, but Southern Miss went on its second 13-2run, taking a 33-14 lead with 5:39 to play.

New Mexico State then went on a 12-2 run to pull within 25-26 with 56 seconds to play in the half. But a lay-up by Johnson and a Page three-pointer at the end of the half sent Southern Miss into the break with a 40-26 lead.

New Mexico State was led by Christian Kabongo with a game-high 21 points and six rebounds. Wendell McKines scored 15 points and Hernst Laroche added 12.

Southern Miss was held to just 38.1-percent (24-63) shooting, while NMSU connected on 50.0-percent (26-52) from the field. The Golden Eagles were 21-of-30 (70.0%) from the free throw line, while NMSU, who came into the game averaging 38.9 free throw attempts per game, were held to just 8-of-14 (57.1%). USM also outrebounded the Aggies, 42-to-33, including 20 offensive rebounds.

Southern Miss heads back on the road on Wednesday, Dec. 7, when it travels to Mobile, Ala., for its annual date with South Alabama. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.

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