Southern Miss’ comeback attempt not enough, falls to Middle Tennessee, 62-61

Southern Miss’ comeback attempt not enough, falls to Middle Tennessee, 62-61

This is a news release from Southern Miss athletics

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Rasham Suarez' three-pointer at the buzzer went off the front of the rim, and Southern Miss went scoreless the last three minutes of the game, as the Golden Eagles fell 62-61, to Middle Tennessee, Thursday night at Reed Green Coliseum.

The loss, which is the seventh straight for Southern Miss, drops it to 5-10 on the year, 0-4 in Conference USA.

"It was a tough basketball game," said Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler. "I couldn't be any happier with our team. They played as hard as they can play. Middle Tennessee just made one more play than we made. That was the difference between us winning and losing. All of our guys gave tremendous effort, and with the minutes that they were forced to play, it was incredible."

The game was tied at 33 at the half. Middle Tennessee opened the second half on a 9-0 run as the Golden Eagles missed their first six shots and committed two turnovers in the first five minutes. Carey finally got the Black and Gold on the board, and after a missed three by Marcus Tarrance, Bingaya drove along the left baseline for a jumper to pull Southern Miss within five, 42-37.

After a jumper by JaQuel Richmond, Armelin picked off Richmond's pass and went in for a dunk, followed by two free throws from Carey to get Southern Miss within three with 13 minutes to play.

The next four minutes were spent trading baskets, as MTSU would push their lead to five, only to have the Golden Eagles get it back to three.

With 9:15 to play and trailing 53-48, Southern Miss went on an 8-0 run, capped off by Armelin's back-to-back three-pointers to give the Black and Gold a 56-53 lead with 5:50 to play, its first since 15-14.

Two free throws by Jacquez Rozier cut it two a one-point game. On the ensuing possession, Suarez tried to hit Carey for an alley-oop, but the ball bounced off Carey's hands right back to Suarez, who laid it in off the glass.

Jaqawn Raymond tied the game at 58 with his third three of the game. But, a minute and a half later, Armelin drained a three to give Southern Miss a 61-58 lead with 3:03 to play.

After a Middle Tennessee timeout, Rozier hit a jumper to pull the Blue Raiders to within one. The Golden Eagles had two more chances to extend its lead, but could not convert. With 40 seconds remaining, Reggie Upshaw drove from the right corner and banked it in to give MTSU the 62-61 lead. Southern Miss' last chance effort didn't go as time expired.

Chip Armelin led all players with 18 points and a career-high eight rebounds and four assists. Rasham Suarez had 14 points and four rebounds and Norville Carey added 12 points and four boards.

Southern Miss controlled the tip and immediately got a three from Armelin. Perrin Buford hit one-of-two free throws for MTSU before Suarez found Jeremiah Eason for a lay-up and a 5-1 lead. However, a jumper followed by a JaQuel Richmond gave the Blue Raiders a 6-5 lead, 2:29 into the first half.

The Golden Eagles regained the lead on a Matt Bingaya driving layup. The teams then hit three-pointers on five straight possessions before a layup from Carey gave Southern Miss a 15-14 lead.

But, Middle Tennessee went on an 11-2 run to take its largest lead of the first half, 25-17, with 10:48 to play in the half.

A three-point play by Eason followed by a Suarez jumper pulled the Golden Eagles to within three points. But two straight baskets by MTSU extended their lead to seven with 7:36 to play.

Bingaya then hit a three that sent Southern Miss on a 7-0 run over the next 2:39 to tie the game at 29. Jaqawn Raymond hit a three to put the Blue Raiders back up three. Eason then found Carey for a dunk. After Jacquez Rozier hit one-of-two free throws, Carey hit a pair to send Southern Miss into halftime tied at 33.

Southern Miss connected 53.7% (22-of-41) from the field and 44.4% (8-of-18) from three. Middle Tennessee was 22-of-45 (48.9%) for the game, including 9-of-19 (47.4%) from three. The Golden Eagles outrebounded MTSU, 27-to-22.

Southern Miss returns to Reed Green Coliseum this Saturday, January 17, when it hosts UAB. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.