Sadler: “We dug ourselves a hole”

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Southern Miss was handed its second loss in three games by William Carey on Sunday. The 78-72 loss comes after the team’s appearance in the Cancun Challenge, where the Golden Eagles lost 64-48 to North Florida and then edged out a win against Western Carolina.

“You know after the SMU and Troy games, we have gotten confused as to who we are and we have not played a good basketball game since then,” Head Coach Doc Sadler said. “For our team to be successful we have to play with a passion and an edge, and we’re not doing it.”

William Carey opened the game with as much as a nine-point lead at 15-6. Southern Miss stormed back to tie the game 23-23 with eight minutes left in the half. Despite holding a 41-38 lead over the Crusaders at halftime, William Carey outshot Southern Miss 46.9 percent to 37.9 percent, a trait that followed the team into the second half.

Southern Miss opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 10-point lead at 52-42. However, shooting for the Golden Eagles became harder as the game progressed.

“You get up 10 and you come down and you take some bad shot selections instead of realizing again that you got a 10-point lead and let’s at least get the ball inside and try to get a basket or get a foul, go to the free throw line, do things like that and we’re settling for jump shots,” Sadler said.

In the final seven minutes of the contest, Southern Miss missed 12 out of its last 13 shots taken, which allowed William Carey to take the 78-72 victory. Southern Miss finished 1-for-11 from the three-point line and was 8-for-26 in that category for the game.

Redshirt senior Tyree Griffin led the team with 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, while senior Cortez Edwards finished with 12 points and six rebounds. Five William Carey players had double-digit scoring nights, and the Crusaders shot 46.4 percent from the three-point line.

“I’ve told [the] guys, we have got enough points but we can’t be giving points up when you come off the bench, and that’s what we’re doing right now,” Sadler said.

Sadler also said that one of the biggest difficulties now is having a tough loss after so much initial hype prior to the start of the season. With just under 2,000 fans in attendance, Sadler called for fans to come support the team, which he says is crucial for the team to be successful.

“I’ve said this now for five years, whether it be in football or basketball. Southern Miss isn’t good enough to just show up and play people,” Sadler said.  “They have to have people helping and in days like today when you’re not ready to play, it’s not an excuse but it’s a fact that you have to have some help. The crowd tried to get into it, the ones that were here, I appreciate that, but at some point you have to get some excitement. Until you give people a lot of reasons to come, you are not going to [get people to go to games]. We just dug ourselves a hole and were not good enough to do that.”

Southern Miss will play three games at home in its next stretch. The Golden Eagles will face off against South Alabama on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. in Reed Green Coliseum.