Disappointing loss: USM let down at UAB
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 00:02
Just a under a week ago, the Golden Eagles were on top of the world after notching their first win over the Memphis Tigers under basketball head coach Larry Eustachy, but after last night's loss to the University of Alabama - Birmingham Blazers, the team's mood is much more somber after the deflating loss.
In sports, there is a term for games like this: let down games or trap games. These terms describe a situation in which a team comes off a big win and lose the next game, often to an inferior opponent. After last week's inspiring win over Memphis, Southern Miss suffered possibly the most emotionally crushing loss of the season at the hands of the Blazer. Coming into the match-up, the Eagles were nested firmly atop C-USA with a clear path to the season title, which would give them a big boost going into the conference tournament. The Eagles were also on the verge of being ranked nationally in both the Coaches and AP Polls, and USM had a straight shot at being in the NCAA Tournament. All of these aspirations have been temporarily put on hold after the 10-point loss to the Blazers.
Entering the game, the Eagles had won 15 of their last 16 games, including a win over the very same UAB team that upset them Wednesday night in Birmingham. The Eagles entered with a 20-3 (7-1) record, and UAB was a lowly 9-13 (4-5) on the season. By all accounts, this should have been an easy win for Southern Miss, but UAB had other intentions.
The Eagles started the first half on a quick 5-0 run before the Blazers answered back with a 5-0 run of their own. Four minutes into the game, Jonathan Mills and Rashard McGill found themselves in early foul trouble with two fouls a piece. Despite the early struggles, Darnell Dodson and Maurice Bolden carried the team offensively early in the game. As the half progressed, UAB began to heat up and took a 32-28 lead entering the half.
Coming out for the second half, the Blazers pulled ahead 41-36 five minutes into the second half. After allowing the Eagles to tie the game up at 49 with just over 8:00 on the clock, the Blazers pulled away. UAB closed the game on a 38-12 run. USM struggled down the stretch and was unable to sustain a run to get back in the game. A late, last gasp effort by the Eagles fell short, and the Eagles fell 71-61.
The Eagles are still in a position to win the regular season crown in C-USA and make the NCAA tourney, but the loss is still very painful for the Eagles.
Southern Miss returns to action Saturday against the University of Central Florida Knights at 4 p.m. CT in Hattiesburg. In order to regain dominance in C-USA, the Eagles must rise to the challenge and finish the season strong. After the Knights depart the Green House, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane travels to Hattiesburg next Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. The match-up between USM and Tulsa is for conference supremacy, as the two teams are only a half game apart atop the conference ladder and is as close to a must win the Eagles will get during the regular season if they are to complete their dream of obtaining a C-USA title.