Dec. 30, 2009
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss got off to a quick start and never looked back, defeating Dillard, 87-55, Wednesday night at Reed Green Coliseum. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak.
Sophomore Maurice Bolden had a game-high 18 points with six rebounds. Junior Josimar Ayarza scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high eight boards. Senior Buchi Awaji had 11 points and five rebounds.
"I thought we were very focused," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy. "It really isn't about the opponent. It's about what our mindset is and whether we are executing the situation. I was really impressed. There's a ton of room for improvement. These guys can get so much better, and we have the pieces to do it."
Southern Miss (9-3) never trailed. The teams battled early on, as the Golden Eagles took a quick 5-0 lead before Dillard pulled to within at 7-6.
The Eagles jumped out to a 21-11 lead, but once again, the Blue Devils cut it close, this time pulling within 23-19 on two free throws by Mico Sjekloca with 7:53 to play.
However, Southern Miss took over. Ayarza and Awaji keyed an 18-0 run over the next 5:30 to take a commanding 41-19 advantage. Awaji's third three-pointer of the half with four seconds left gave Southern Miss a 46-23 lead at the half.
The Black and Gold never let up in the second half, leading by as many as 42 points.
The Golden Eagles nearly doubled up Dillard on the boards, outrebounding them 49-27. They connected on 92.9-percent (13-of-14) of their free throws, the third best single-game mark in Southern Miss history.
Junior R.L. Horton had nine points, six rebounds and a career-high tying six assists. Junior Gary Flowers added nine points and five rebounds. It was just the second time he was held under ten points and snapped a five game double-double streak.
The Blue Devils were led by Cornice Wingate with 16 points. Sjekloca had 11 points and a team-high four rebounds, while Myron McGowan added 10 points.
Southern Miss will play its final game before conference play starts, as it travels to Nashville, Tenn. to face Vanderbilt on Saturday, Jan. 2. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised on FSN-South and ESPN360.com.