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Eagles Lose Opener At Kelley Tires C-USA Tournament
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Southern Miss saw its 2003-04 basketball season come to a close here tonight when Saint Louis posted a 52-46 victory over the Golden Eagles, in the opening round of the 2004 Kelley Tires Conference USA Tournament.
The Billikens (17-11) advanced to a second round game against Memphis, while Southern Miss ended its season with a 13-15 record.
Southern Miss led most of the first half in the second meeting of the season between the two teams, by margins that reached six, and led 23-19 at halftime. The Billikens pulled even early in the second half, and held their largest lead of the game midway through the period, at 35-25, after putting together a 16-2 run to open the second half.
However, playing for Interim Head Coach Jeff Norwood, the Eagles refused to quit though, and roared back to take the lead again, at 39-37 with 7:16 remaining, outscoring Saint Louis 14-2 in that period.
The score was tied as late as the 2:36 mark, at 46-46, but Southern Miss did not score again, while the Billikens scored the final six points of the game.
Charles Gaines closed his two-year Southern Miss career with his 29th double-double and 15th of the season, with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Jasper Johnson led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 15 points. The Eagles outrebounded Saint Louis 36-29, but shot just .360 (18-50) while the Billikens made 18-of-43 (.419) from the field, and made 8-of-17 from 3-point range, while the Eagles hit just 3-of-17 from the same distance.
The Billikens put three players in double figures, with Phillip Hunt leading the way with 14. Reggie Bryant had 13 and Josh Fisher 11.
The score was tied seven times and the lead changed 10 times during the course of the game.