Southern Miss struggled mightily, but was able to defeat Marshall 60-57 Friday night at Reed-Green Coliseum.
Aaron Brown led all scorers for USM with 13 while Michael Craig scored 12 points with seven rebounds and four assists. Neil Watson and Jerrold Brooks each chipped in ten points.
What really hurt USM was their bench play which is usually a strength for the Golden Eagles. Their bench combined for just 11 points on the night despite playing a total of 47 minutes.
Ryan Taylor led all Marshall players with 17 points and totaled nine rebounds. Chris Thomas added 10 points and six rebounds.
Another strength of Southern Miss’ that was nonexistent was their rebounding. The Golden Eagles were outrebounded 31-23 on the night. USM had just four offensive rebounds which a facet they thrive on.
Southern Miss was able to out shoot the Thundering Herd, but Marshall had 13 more attempts from the field than USM due to the lack of offensive rebounding. Southern Miss shot 53 percent from the field while Marshall shot 45 percent from the field.
The biggest play of the game happened when Southern Miss head coach called a time out with 6.1 seconds left in the game with his squad down 57-55. It was a good thing he called the time out when he did because Brooks threw up a desperation three-point attempt that he air-balled, but luckily the time out occurred before he got the shot off.
“Coach kind of just said, coming out of that time out, you’re about to get the ball,” Watson said. “I’m gonna have Mike (Craig) set you a screen to the outside. Go over it and, if (the defender) goes under it, shoot the three.”
Tyndall drew up the perfect play as Watson came off a screen set by Craig, with the defender attempting to go under the screen, and drilled a three-pointer to give USM the lead.
“I told Neil coming out of the time out, I said, ‘Look, if they don’t get to you, jump up and stick it in the rim. If they give you some room, just knock it in,’” Tyndall said. “He’s a confident kid. He nodded and said ‘I got you’ and, to his credit, he made the play.”
Southern Miss closed the game with two free throws to give them the hard fought win. Had they lost, it could’ve spelled doom for their hopes of reaching the NCAA tournament in March.
However, there’s a reason why Tyndall received a contract extension earlier this year. It’s not only because he has proven he knows how to build a quality program, but make clutch decisions in crucial situations and he trusts his players to make the play when called upon.
“Guys like Neil and Jerrold (Brooks) and Mike (Craig), they’ve played in games like this so they don’t shy away from wanting the ball. They don’t hide from it,” Tyndall said.
If Southern Miss wants to keep itself in the national discussion, they will have to play gutsy just like they did Friday night.