Dec. 21, 2009
GULFPORT, Miss. - After a tough first half, Southern Miss opened up the game in the second half, on its way to a 78-58 victory over New Orleans in its first game of the South Mississippi Christmas Classic at Bert Jenkins Gymnasium in Gulfport.
Junior Josimar Ayarza led the Golden Eagles with 16 points, while sophomore Angelo Johnson had 15. Junior Gary Flowers just missed a triple-double, scoring 11 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and blocking seven shots. It was his third straight double-double. Sophomore Maurice Bolden also had 13 points and five rebounds.
"When we played the game the right way, we were very good," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy. "But, when we took the easy way out, we struggled. We struggled to score early in the second half, but then we were able to put it together. But we'll jump back in the fire and go forward over the next two days."
The teams started out slow from the field as they combined to start the game just 4-of-24 from the field. Southern Miss (8-1) took a 10-5 lead 6:43 into the game, but UNO (5-6) went on a 10-4 run to take a 15-14 lead with 9:28 to play in the half.
However, a 7-2 run gave the Black and Gold a 21-17 lead 3:12 later before closing the half on a 10-4 run to take a 35-27 advantage at halftime.
The second half began much like the first. R.L. Horton hit a jumper to give the Eagles their first double-digit lead. But, New Orleans scored 11 of the next 14 points to close the gap to three, 39-36, 4:04 into the half. The Privateers kept it close for the next three minutes. However, Southern Miss went on a 10-0 run, capped off by Bolden's third three-pointer of the night, for a 59-44 lead with 10 minutes to play.
New Orleans cut the deficit to 11, but would get no closer, as the Golden Eagles led by as many as 23 points.
Southern Miss was 25-of-47 (53.2%) from the field, while holding UNO to just 26.8-percent (15-of-56). It was the second time in the last three games that they have held their opponent to under 30-percent shooting.
Charles Carmouche led the Privateers with 17 points. Billy Humphrey, who lead the Sun Belt Conference in scoring, was held to just four points in 11 minutes.
The South Mississippi Christmas Classic continues tomorrow when New Orleans takes on North Florida at 4:30 p.m., followed by Southern Miss against Canisius at 7 p.m.