Jan 24, 2015; Denton, TX, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles head coach Doc Sadler (L) congratulates guard Kevin Holland (20) after the game against the North Texas Mean Green at UNT Coliseum. The Golden Eagles won in overtime 75-71. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Determination and effort paid off for Southern Miss as it defeated North Texas in overtime 75-71. This was USM’s first conference win, now standing at 1-6 in Conference USA.
With the self-imposed postseason ban in place, the Golden Eagles do not have much to play for, but the its performance Saturday night showed the team still has its pride.
The Mean Green came out hot offensively, but so did Chip Armelin for USM. Armelin sunk a 3-pointer, assisted by Rasham Suarez, cutting the North Texas lead to three with 15:34 left in the first half.
Late in the first half, the Golden Eagles began committing mental mistakes. Armelin turned the ball over with 2:25 remaining as North Texas’ Jordan Williams laid the ball up, giving his team a six-point lead, 31-25.
Armelin nailed two free throws with seven seconds left on the clock, cutting the Mean Green lead to five, but the Golden Eagles allowed Maurice Aniefiok to drain a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, increasing its lead to eight.
USM never led at any point in the first half of play, and trailed 37-29 at the half.
The Mean Green’s lead rapidly increased in the second half when Williams’ 3-pointer gave them a 14-point lead over the Golden Eagles with 16 minutes remaining. USM was in search of an offensive spark, or even a hero.
Armelin again knocked down a pair of free-throws, adding points to one of his best games in a Southern Miss uniform and cutting the Mean Green lead down to only three with 5:12 remaining.
A missed jump shot by Bingaya was put back in for two points by Norville Carey, tying the game at 57-57 with three minutes left to play. Southern Miss took advantage of second-chance points, which was key in the victory.
With eleven seconds ticking down and USM down three, 62-59, the Golden Eagles were forced to foul, sending North Texas’ Jeremy Combs to the free throw line.
Bingaya came up with a huge rebound on Combs’ miss and quickly pushed the ball up the court, passing it to Carey who nailed a clutch three-pointer, sending the game into overtime.
That was only Carey’s fourth 3-pointer of the season and USM’s first overtime game.
“We all knew Norville was going to hit that shot, didn’t we?” said head coach Doc Sadler.
Both teams traded baskets in overtime until Armelin made yet another 3-pointer, giving USM a 67-66 lead with 2:12 on the clock. The Golden Eagles knew it had to continue feeding its hot-handed guard, Armelin, who went on to score nine points in overtime play, leading his team to a
“Once we heard we weren’t going to be able to play in the postseason, we just had to swallow our pride and keep playing hard,” Armelin said.
Armelin led the way in scoring for Southern Miss with a career-high 30 points. He was 10 of 17 from the floor, including four of nine beyond the arc.
Carey had 18 points and 12 rebounds, his second career double-double. Bingaya also added 12 points and nine rebounds.
USM dominated the boards with 42 total rebounds compared to North Texas’ 35. The Golden Eagles also committed fewer turnovers with only 14, while the Mean Green had 17.
Southern Miss only played eight players in Saturday’s overtime win. Two of them, Michael O’Donnell and Suarez, fouled out late.
Southern Miss will host Marshall Thursday night in search of its second conference win. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.