Despite East Carolina’s great shooting night from behind the arc, Southern Miss beat the Pirates on the road in commanding fashion, 60-46.
East Carolina (11-9, 0-5) set the tone in the first half, jumping out to an early lead in the game. The Pirates held a 10-point cushion with about four minutes left in the first half and went into halftime with a 30-23 lead.
The Pirates shot 42.3 percent (11-of-51) from the floor, 38.9 percent (7-of-18) from the three-point line but only 33.3 percent from the free throw line for the first half.
Free throws and points in the paint kept the Golden Eagles alive in the first half. Southern Miss shot 34.6 percent from the field (9-for-26) with 14 of their points coming in the paint. The Golden Eagles converted 18.2 percent (2-for-11) from beyond the arc and 60 percent (3-for-5) from the free throw line.
After halftime, the Golden Eagles (18-3, 5-1 C-USA) turned it up a notch in the second half. Daveon Boardingham threw down a powerful dunk and Neil Watson drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two early in the second half.
However, East Carolina managed to reclaim leads in the early portion of the second half. After Matt Bingaya hit a jump shot and a Michael Craig dunk, back-to-back three pointers from Paris Roberts and Richmond gave the Pirates a 42-38 lead with over 13 minutes left in the second half.
Halfway through the second half, the Golden Eagles took a 44-43 lead. From there, Southern Miss never looked back. Jerrold Brooks hit a 3-pointer and two foul shots; Michael Craig hit two jump shots and Boardingham connected on an alley-oop from Neil Watson to give Southern Miss a 56-43 lead with 2:22 to play in the second half.
Southern Miss went on a 20-4 run in the final 12 minutes of the second half to seal the deal.
For the game, Southern Miss shot 43.1 percent (22-for-51) from the field, 75 percent (12-for-16) from the free throw line and only 25 percent (4-for-16) from three point range. The Golden Eagles outrebounded the Pirates 36-31 and won the turnover ratio, committing two fewer turnovers in the game.
Daveon Boardingham led all scorers with 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Michael Craig scored 12 points and 11 rebounds in his sixth double-double of the year and Jerrold Brooks added 11 points.
Neil Watson put in 10 points, six rebounds and five steals on the night. Watson moved up to second place on the Southern Miss all-time assists list and ninth-place on the all-time steals list.
Akeem Richmond led all scorers for the Pirates with 18 points followed by Caleb White with 13 points.
Currently, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has USM as one of the last four in to make the NCAA Tournament. USM just missed the tournament last season.
Southern Miss improved to 6-3 on the road and will return to Reed Green Coliseum Saturday to host Tulane University. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.