Thursday night, the University of Southern Mississippi men’s basketball team snapped a nine-game losing streak with a Conference USA victory.
On Saturday evening, the Golden Eagles started a streak of another sort.
Senior swingman Quinton Campbell posted his first career double-double with personal bests of 24 points and 10 rebounds as USM held off the University of Texas-El Paso 73-65 before an announced 2,161 at Green Coliseum.
Campbell, who also had a team-high three steals, knocked down 8 of 13 shots from the floor, including 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range.
“Now that we broke that losing streak, we don’t want to look back,” Campbell said. “We’re just going to continue to look forward and try to continue to win.”
USM guard Cortez Edwards added 17 points Saturday, as the Golden Eagles (5-10, 2-1 C-USA) won back-to-back games against Division I competition for the first time since the last week of January 2016.
“It feels great,” USM coach Doc Sadler said.
UTEP guards Omega Harris (game-high 26 points) and Dominic Artis (23 points, game-high 13 rebounds) combined for 75 percent of their team’s points and 60 percent of its baskets.
But the duo’s dynamics weren’t enough to prevent the Miners (2-13, 0-3) from dropping their 12th consecutive game while remaining winless on the road.
UTEP coach Tim Floyd _ whose father, Lee, won 246 games during two coaching stints at USM _ remained winless in seven visits to Green Coliseum. He dropped his sixth game in Hattiesburg as head coach of the Miners to go along with a long-ago loss while coaching the University of New Orleans.
“Playing Coach Floyd’s teams are always hard because they keep you off balance with what they are going to do defensively,” said Sadler, who spent two seasons as Miners’ head coach in 2004-05 and 2005-06. “But offensively, I think we’re starting to play a little better.”
Saturday, the Golden Eagles played in spurts, building enough cushion throughout the game to survive scoring droughts of their own.
Edwards had all eight of his first half points in a 12-4 run over the final 4 minutes, 10 seconds, as the Golden Eagles pulled away from a 27-27 to take a 39-31 halftime lead.
“I was just trying to take advantage of my opportunities,” Edwards said, who also chipped in with three rebounds, three assists and two steals. “Basically, it’s just trying to make plays when I can, but not force anything.”
An Edwards’ layup off a steal and a free throw by Bilal Abdur-Rahim boosted USM’s lead to 11 points five minutes into the second half, but Harris keyed a 7-0 UTEP run with two 3-pointers as the Miners closed to 48-44.
USM pulled away again, taking its largest lead of the game, 67-52, on consecutive, wide-open 3-pointers by Campbell with 6 minutes left to play.
But those were the final baskets of the day for the Golden Eagles, who had to rely on seven free throws down the stretch to hold off the Miners, who got within 69-63 on a pair of Harris free throws with 1:54 to play.
USM point guard Khari Price, who scored 20 points against the University of Texas-San Antonio Thursday, missed all 8 of his shots from the floor and scored just one point Saturday.
But Price handed out a game-high four assists and made two steals while running the game.
“Even though he didn’t score a lot of points, he kept us down to 11 turnovers,” Sadler said.
The Golden Eagles, which wrapped up a three-game homestand Saturday, will hit the road for a pair of conference games this week, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.