USM bounces back for 66-60 win over FIU
The Golden Eagles (5-11, 2-3) won their second game in the last three, ending FIU’s three- game home winning streak in a 66-60 victory.
Senior Kourtlin Jackson led Southern Miss with a game-high 23 points, while sophomore Keljin Blevins and freshman Rob Thomas added nine points each.
The Panthers received 19 points from Donte McGill and Adrian Diaz. McGill took control in the first half with 17, while Diaz led the team in the second half with his own 17 to lead the Panthers in scoring for the half.
After falling behind 7-0 early in the game, the Golden Eagles fought back to come within striking distance of FIU’s lead, which grew by as much as eight at one point.
Down 21-16 with 6:25 left after a FIU jumper, Southern Miss then outscored the Panthers 10-4 over the next 3:09 and took its only lead of the first half on a Cortez Edwards 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining in the half.
Down 31-27 at the half, the Golden Eagles scored the first six points to start the second period. FIU rallied back after a free throw and back-to-back three-point plays by Diaz, to give them a 38-35 ad- vantage, but the Golden Eagles scored 11 of the next 13 points, giving the Golden Eagles a 46-40 lead with a little over 10 minutes to play.
Head coach Doc Sadler credited strong defense as a key to the Golden Eagles to generating a lead in the second half.
“We started the second half with six consecutive stops and that’s a credit to our guys not only getting the initial stop, but also taking care of the defensive boards,” Sadler said. “That was critical against a team like this that is so big.”
Southern Miss built its advantage to as many as 11 points after a Raheem Watts 3-pointer with about four minutes to play, but the Panthers rallied again late in the game, cutting the gap to four with 29 ticks left at 63-59. Jackson helped to keep the margin by hitting three of four free throws in the final seconds to help seal the victory.
“I’m so proud of these kids because they just keep giving the effort,” Sadler said. “Eventually good things happen and that’s what did tonight.”
The Golden Eagles return to action on Jan. 23, when they host Louisiana Tech at Reed Green Coliseum. Tip-off will be at 7 p.m.