USM rally falls short against Tulane

USM rally falls short against Tulane
The Mississippi High School Activities Association basketball playoffs are now in the semifinal round, and eight teams from the Pine Belt are trying to play their way into championship games. (Photo source: Raycom Image Bank)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A furious University of Southern Mississippi rally over the final five minutes of the game fell short as the Golden Eagles dropped a 71-64 decision Saturday evening to visiting Tulane University at Green Coliseum.

"The bottom line is, we've just got to keep working, just got to keep playing, and have something good happen for us," USM coach Doc Sadler said.

The Golden Eagles trailed 64-43 with 6 minutes, 4 seconds, left to play before dropping in five, 3-pointers in a 21-6 over a 4:23 stretch that cut the Green Wave's lead to 70-64 with 20.3 seconds left in the game.

But Green Wave guard Cameron Reynolds hit a free throw and USM guard Cortez Edwards missed a 3-point attempt with 8 seconds to play as Tulane (3-7) held on to post consecutive wins for the first time this season.

USM dropped (3-5) its fourth consecutive game and lost for the second consecutive season to the Green Wave.

Reynolds led all scorers with 23 points, including four 3-pointers, while grabbing 11 rebounds. Guard Ray Ona Embo added 15 points and five rebounds, while forward Blake Paul had 10 points and seven rebounds.

USM sophomore guard Kevin Holland, who made three of his five 3-pointers down the stretch, had15 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

Senior swingman Quinton Campbell also had 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while sophomore forward added 13 points and five rebounds.

USM, which shot 22.7 percent from the floor in the first half, scored the game's first five points and led 8-2 five minutes into the first half.

The Golden Eagles managed just two points over the ensuing 12 minutes, including a 9-minute, 18-second scoring drought, as Tulane built a 23-10 lead.

"We got off to a good start and then we turned it over on five straight possessions that were just unforced errors," Sadler said. "They go on a 21-3 run, and there's the turnovers and I think we missed the front ends of four, 1-and-1 opportunities.

"So, you know, you just can't let that kind of stuff to happen."

The Green Wave's lead grew to 28-11 before USM guard Michael Ramey hit a pair of 3-pointers in the half's final minute as the Golden Eagles cut the lead to 30-17 at halftime.

USM shot better from the floor in the second half at 53.1 percent, but still struggled at the free-throw line, finishing the game 9 of 21 from the foul line.

"We can't drop our heads," Sadler said. "Look, gosh, it's frustrating for me, it's frustrating for them, but we've just got to keep plugging."

USM will return to play on Dec. 19, meeting Mississippi State University at 8 p.m. in Jackson.