Dec. 23, 2009
GULFPORT, Miss. - Southern Miss made a valiant comeback attempt try but it was too late, as it dropped a 53-46 decision to North Florida in the final game of the South Mississippi Christmas Classic held in Gulfport, Miss. The Golden Eagles finished the Classic with a 1-2 record.
Southern Miss (8-3) has now lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
''You have to bottom out at some time,'' Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said. ''We have definitely bottomed out. I think the guys are worn out mentally. We lost two games. But this might be what we needed.''
Southern Miss was down 43-29 with 5:42 to play. The Golden Eagles scored five straight points to pull within single digits before UNF (4-7) made it an 11-point lead. But R.L Horton's two three-pointers propelled Southern Miss to a 12-4 run, pulling to within 48-46 with 34-seconds to play. However, the Ospreys scored the final five points for the final decision.
From the opening tip, the Black and Gold was sluggish. They were held without a point for the first 6:11 of the game, missing their first eight shots. A jumper by Josimar Ayarza finally put them on the board. North Florida then scored 11 of the next 15 points, bookended by three-pointers from Germaine Sparkes and Eni Cuka for a 16-6 UNF advantage with 8:01 to play in the half.
Southern Miss got back to within five points on a Maurice Bolden lay-up with 3:16 to play, but the Ospreys scored the final six points of the half to hold a 24-13 lead at the break.
The 13 points were the fewest in a half since scoring 12 against Cincinnati in 2002. It is also the sixth fewest in a half ever.
The Golden Eagles tried to get back into it in the second half, opening on a 10-2 run over the first 5:20 to make it 26-23. However, with North Florida ahead 29-26, the Ospreys went on a 14-3 run of their own to take a 43-29 advantage with 5:42 to play, its largest lead of the game.
Brad Haugabrook led North Florida with 11 points and four rebounds. Stan Januska added nine points and six boards.
Southern Miss will take a week off before returning to the court when they host Dillard on Dec. 30. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
|Follow Southern Miss Athletics:||Follow @SouthernMissMBB|