Press release from Southern Miss Athletics
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - After turning in the highest scoring game of his collegiate basketball career Thursday night at Green Coliseum, Southern Miss senior guard Kourtlin Jackson talked more about the shots he missed than the ones he made.
“We had this game,” said Jackson, who turned in the first 30-point game of his career. “It hurts, just hurts. I had so many chances to end the game, just me, personally, so this just hurts more than anything.”
Jackson and his teammates squandered a seven-point lead in the final 39.2 seconds of regulation, and then, in the end, couldn’t stop Rice’s super-freshman guard, Maurice Evans, as the Owls swooped away with a 76-74 overtime victory before 2,547.
“This has happened so much, to come in the locker room and there’s a group of guys who has given you everything … (but) the bottom line is, (Rice) just a made a few plays that we did not make,” Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said. “We fought and fought and built a little bit of lead there, but we gave them too many easy baskets without making them run any offense, and we had missed a few opportunities at the other end.”
Southern Miss (7-19, 4-11 Conference USA), had taken a 66-59 lead on point guard Khari Price’s two free throws with 39.2 seconds to play.
But Jackson and guard Robert Thomas III missed the front end of one-and-one free throw opportunities down the stretch, while Evans scored four points on a drive and two free throws.
The dagger came after Jackson’s miss with 24.1 seconds left in regulation and Southern Miss nursing 66-63 lead. After a Rice timeout with 13.8 seconds to play, point guard Max Guercy dropped in the 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4.5 seconds to play that sent the game into the extra period.
It was Guercy’s lone basket of the game, though the 5-foot-9 senior did grab a game-high seven rebounds and hand out a game-high nine assists.
“The one guy who hadn’t made a basket the entire game jumps up and makes a play,” Sadler said. “That’s what I mean by saying that they made a few more plays. But you have to give (Guercy) credit. He stepped up and made a play.”
Rice (12-16, 7-8), which won its fourth consecutive game and for the fifth time in its last six games, jumped to a four-point lead in overtime, but the Golden Eagles rallied, and took a 73-72 lead on guard Michael Ramey’s only basket of the game, a 3-pointer, with 34.6 seconds to play.
The Owls, though, regained the lead on an Evans’ drive, before Jackson tied the game 74-74 after making one of two free throws.
But Jackson fouled Evans at the other end with 3.8 seconds to play, and the freshman made both shots. Jackson’s rushed trey attempt from the left wing was wildly long.
“We just couldn’t get stops,” Jackson said. “We had the win. But it comes down to getting stops, and they just made more plays than we did at the end.”
Southern Miss dropped its seventh consecutive C-USA game, including a sweep by the Owls in that stretch. It was also the second overtime heartbreaker the Golden Eagles had suffered on their home court, joining an 80-77 double-overtime loss to UAB on Feb. 11.
Jackson led Southern Miss with a career-high 31 points, the first 30-point game since Chip Armelin turned the trick on Jan. 24, 2015, at North Texas. He also pulled down a team-high six rebounds.
Swingman Quinton Campbell finished with 14 points, all in the second half, while Price added 12 points and seven assists.
Price scored a game-high 32 points for Rice, his second consecutive 30-point outing and third of the season. Guard Connor Cashaw had 13 points, while forwards Egor Koulechov and Marquez Letcher-Ellis each had 11 points.
With Jackson scoring 13 of Southern Miss’ first 18 points, the Golden Eagles grabbed an 18-10 lead. Southern Miss still led by eight with 6:53 left in the first half when forward Raheem Watts hit a 3-pointer to give the Golden Eagles a 24-16 lead.
But Rice closed the half on a 12-6 run to pull within 30-28 at the break.
The second half lead see-sawed, with Rice first nudging ahead 39-36 on Evans’ 3-pointer, and then leading by two points on three other occasions.
Southern Miss regained control, with Jackson hitting a 3-pointer and Campbell popping in a basket to cap a 12-3 run that lifted the Golden Eagles into a 55-48 lead with 8:27 to play.
But the Owls clawed back, tying the game 57-57 with 3:08 to play on an Evans’ floater in the lane.