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Southern Miss Defeats Savannah State, 64-54, to Claim Hardwood Club Holiday Tournament Championship

Dec. 30, 2010

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss connected on 12 free throws over the final 2:34 to pull away from Savannah State, 64-54, and win the Hardwood Club Holiday Tournament, Thursday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

Southeastern Louisiana defeated Mississippi Valley State, 76-60, in the Consolation Game.

With the win, Southern Miss improves to 11-2 on the year. It is the first time in school history that the Golden Eagles have won 11 games before January.

Senior Gary Flowers was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after recording 28 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while also blocking three shots. It was his second double-double of the year. Senior R.L. Horton scored 13 points and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Senior Sai'Quon Stone added nine points, including 7-of-8 free throws, and six rebounds.

"That was as tough a win as we've had all year," said head coach. "(Savannah State) has played some really good teams this year, and played them all hard. So we knew coming in that this was not going to be an easy game. I was really proud at how we were able to keep our poise toward the end. We had a good lead, and they came back on us. But we learned a lot from the Colorado State game, and we were determined to come out with a win."

After Savannah State took an early 5-0 lead, the Golden Eagles came out hot, hitting five of their first six shots to take a 13-8 lead five minutes into the game. However, they connected on just five of their final 18 shots the rest of the half.

The Tigers then went on a 7-0 lead to take a 15-13 lead over the next 2:26. The teams traded leads before Savannah State grabbed a 23-18 lead with 3:46 to play. But, Flowers and junior Angelo Johnson led Southern Miss on a 12-2 run to end the half, capped off by a three-pointer from Flowers with two seconds left, as the Black and Gold entered halftime with a 30-25 advantage.

Southern Miss quickly increased its lead, as they opened the second half on a 10-1 run over the first 5:39 to take its largest lead of the game at 40-26.

However, over the next seven minutes, Savannah State chipped away at the lead. Three-pointers by Joshua Montgomery and Jovonni Shuler helped the Tigers close the gap to 47-44 with 7:23 to play.

But, the Golden Eagles would keep SSU within arm's reach the rest of the game.

Shuler led Savannah State with 19 points. Montgomery scored 17, and Preston Blackmon added 11.

Southern Miss was held to just 38.6-percent (17-of-44), but connected on 26-of-33 (78.8%) from the charity stripe. SSU shot 34.0-percent (17-of-50), including 10-of-29 from behind the arc. But the Tigers were just 10-of-13 from the free throw line. The Black and Gold also outrebounded Savannah State, 38-to-28.

Joining Flowers and Horton on the All-Tournament Team were Shuler and Montgomery, Southeastern Louisiana's Brandon Fortenberry and Mississippi Valley State's Paul Crosby

Southern Miss opens conference play next Wednesday, January 5, when it hosts Houston. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT, and will be televised on CSS.

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