Southern Miss (5-12, 0-5 C-USA) dropped a heart breaker 58-56 to the Rice Owls (6-11, 3-3 C-USA) Thursday night in Houston, Texas. The loss increases their losing streak to eight games. With the self-imposed post-season ban, the Golden Eagles are playing for nothing but pride now.
Southern Miss had key games from unlikely players, but had disappointments from Rasham Suarez and Matt Bingaya in the loss. The loss is the second of their last three games in which they lost in the last seconds of the game, the other, a 61-62 loss to MTSU.
The Golden Eagles failed to stop the three-point shot and could not slow down guard Marcus Jackson and forward Seth Gearhart. Gearhart and Jackson combined for 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
The Golden Eagles had to slow down the duo and failed as they allowed both a lot of air space, which allowed them to shoot 53 percent from three-point land and 90 percent from the free throw line. Rice is ranked 16 nationally in made three pointers, averaging 8.94 a game. The Owls also lead C-USA in free throw percentage, shooting 73.9 percent.
There were bright spots for the Golden Eagles as guard Chip Armelin had 18 points and Norville Carey followed with 15 along with four boards. The game was even for the most part, with the Golden Eagles finding a spark right before half and going on a 14-2 run to cut the lead to one.
From there, it was back and forth until the final five seconds when Armelin fouled Jackson after a defensive rebound with the score tied at 56. Jackson would sink both free throws and with one second left, Bingaya heaved a prayer, but it fell well short.
Despite the loss, Southern Miss should hold their heads high as they played some of their best basketball since conference play started.After committing 16 turnovers in their last contest and 18 against MTSU, the Golden Eagles improved and committed only 7 and forcing Rice to turn it over 13 times.
The game was nearly even except for one category, rebounding. The Achilles heel for the Golden Eagles this season came back to bite them again as they were out rebounded 32-23 and allowed the Owls to have too many second chance opportunities.
Also, stand out Matt Bingaya was held to just nine points, four rebounds and three assists in the loss. Bingaya led the team with 17 points against UAB, but had an off night when the Golden Eagles needed him the most.
USM has no time to lick its wounds as they have another trip to Texas coming up Saturday against North Texas. The Mean Green (7-10, 1-4 C-USA) beat Louisiana Tech 73-66 on Thursday and should provide another very winnable game for Southern Miss.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m.