Feb 7, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles guard Keljin Blevins (10) controls the ball as UAB Blazers forward William Lee (34) defends at Bartow Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
The Golden Eagles’ woes continued when they traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, Saturday and were defeated, 78-68, by the UAB Blazers. Southern Miss dropped to 1-10 in conference play, 6-16 overall.
The Golden Eagles started off the afternoon with a technical foul for dunking during pregame. The Blazers were awarded two free throws before the jump ball. UAB’s Nick Norton sunk both, spotting his team two points before tipoff.
USM only dressed eight players, compared to a UAB squad who usually plays at least 10 different players.
In the first half of play, both teams traded the lead numerous times. Keljin Blevins’ dunk followed by a Chip Armelin steal and layup gave USM a 20-18 lead with 7:22 remaining.
A missed three-pointer by Kevin Holland was snatched off the board by Matt Bingaya twice before he made the layup, closing UAB’s lead to only one, 28-27 with 3:29 remaining in the first half.
Southern Miss gave too many second chance shots to the Blazers all night. Consecutive missed three-pointers by UAB and back-to-back offensive rebounds capped off with a huge dunk by William Lee gave the Blazers a 33-30 lead with 50 seconds remaining.
UAB’s Tosin Mehinti nailed a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer, giving his team the edge at halftime 35-30.
First half shooting was not good for either team. USM shot 38.7 percent while UAB shot 37.9 percent from the field.
The second half did not start off well for the Golden Eagles. Bingaya turned the ball over, which led to Norville Carey fouling Mehinti who sunk both free throws increasing UAB’s lead to seven, 37-30.
The Blazers’ lead quickly increased to ten, 47-37, after UAB’s Hakeem Baxter made two free throws with 14:27 remaining.
Southern Miss got into foul trouble, which was a key point in the loss. UAB scored 35 points off of free throws, 35-42 on the night, shooting 83.3 percent from the line. USM committed 24 personal fouls.
USM was in desperate need of defensive stops, but could only seem to slow down the Blazers by fouling.
Nick Norton of UAB, fouled by Carey, nailed two free throws giving the Blazers a large 14-point leadwith 5:24 remaining.
With four minutes left in the game, Armelin made a three-pointer, cutting the Blazer lead back down to 10, 68-58.
Kevin Holland sunk a three-pointer, cutting the score to 70-61. USM continued to show it would never give up.
“They have been in every game they have played this year and they do a great job with what they do,” UAB head coach Jerod Haase said. “They have had some tough times but Coach Sadler is doing a phenomenal job.”
Armelin’s late three-pointer had USM within five points, 73-68, with one minute left to play.
USM failed to score any more points for the rest of the game, and continued to foul to stop the clock, while the Blazers added five more points from the line.
The Blazers outrebounded USM, 38 to 35. Both teams were rather close in every statistical category such as assists, blocks and turnovers. USM shot 35.3 percent behind the arc compared to UAB’s 25 percent.
UAB had five players in double-digit scoring, but overall the foul trouble led to the loss for USM.
Armelin led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 26 points. Bingaya finished with a double-double, 22 points and 12 rebounds. Hollandadded 7 points.
“Bingaya and Armelin have great ability to score the basketball,” Haase said. “We knew those two were going to take most of the shots, because they are talented players.”
Southern Miss will take on FIU Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m.