The Golden Eagles (5-10, 0-4) lost to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (10-7, 3-1) on Thursday 61-60, sending the Golden Eagles to 0-4 in conference play.
Riding a six game losing streak into the game, Southern Miss desperately needed a win to keep pace in a tight race for the C-USA championship. With the loss, Southern Miss fell to 13th out of 14 teams in the conference.
With the Golden Eagles committing 18 turnovers, it was hard for the team to consistently score throughout the game. Both teams went on several runs to establish a lead, only to be countered by a run from their counterparts.
Leading scorer Chip Armelin scored 18 points on 7-13 shooting from the field and making four threes in the game. He also paced the Golden Eagles with 8 rebounds in the loss. With the loss, the Eagles head into the game against UAB on Saturday looking for a win.
“It pretty much gave us a confidence boost,” Armelin said. “But looking forward, we have to go back to the drawing board and get ready for Saturday to play UAB.”
With only 8 players available for coach Doc Sadler in the game, depth was going to be an issue when players were fatigued or got into foul trouble. Timeouts were key when the game slipped out of the Golden Eagles’ grasp during various moments in the game.
“You’ve got to tip the hat to our guys,” Sadler said. “You can’t really practice with 8 guys each and every day and try to get better, it gets hard.”
Southern Miss did not establish much of a low post presence besides Carey, who only attempted 7 shots in the game. Drives to the basket were essential to keep up on the scoreboard.
To start off the second half of action, the Blue Raiders opened up the second half on a 9-0 run. The Golden Eagles did not score until the 14:59 mark in the half by a Norville Carey dunk.
Throughout the second half, both teams tried to establish a lead. During the last 30 seconds of the game, Southern Miss had a chance to take the win. With Armelin bringing the ball up the court, a screen came to his help. He then passed to Rasham Suarez, who then went into isolation, forcing a game-winning, contested jump shot. He missed the shot, and the game was over.
Sophomore Reggie Upshaw paced the Blue Raiders with 18 points and seven rebounds to establish a low post presence in the game. Upshaw came off the bench to lead the team in points, and scored the go-ahead bucket with :40 seconds left in the second half.
Both teams possessed a similar offensive style. For Southern Miss, ball screens around the perimeter and passing to the corners established an offensive flow. This offense establishes a rhythm based on the guards attacking the basket. The Blue Raiders have their screens come from the post to the top of the key, giving space for the guards to attack the basket.