HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Something about Green Coliseum has seemed to bring out the best in Quinton Campbell of late.
Campbell logged 20 points or more for a third, consecutive home game, knocking down a career-high 26 points to help the University of Southern Mississippi take down the University of North Texas 75-65 Thursday night.
"Pleased with our guys, the way we played," USM coach Doc Sadler said.
USM (6-12, 3-3 Conference USA) won its third consecutive home game, while the Mean Green (6-12, 0-6) dropped its seventh consecutive game.
But the Golden Eagles made it harder on themselves than it needed to be.
USM led by 11 points at halftime, 18 points less than four minutes into the second half and 21 points with 6 minutes, 48 seconds left in the game.
But North Texas roared back, getting within nine points twice in the final 1:41 of the game.
"It's like (USM assistant) coach (Chris) Croft said in the locker room, we just haven't been in that kind of situation very much this season," Sadler said of the big lead. "And it was like we didn't know what to do. I think we relaxed on offense, quit being as aggressive as we'd been, and I think we relaxed on defense, and let them drive the ball straight at us."
But the Golden Eagles made 11 of its final 16 free throws to keep the Mean Green at bay.
USM senior guard Michael Ramey finished with 11 points, nine in the second half, and sophomore guard Cortez Edwards added eight points, seven points and three assists.
Sophomore guard Bilal Abdur-Rahim led USM with eight rebounds, while Campbell added five.
Senior forward Derail Green led North Texas with 17 points and six rebounds, while freshman guard Ryan Woolridge added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds and freshman guard A.J. Lawson had 14 points.
The Golden Eagles glided out to a 10-1 lead, with Campbell providing half the production, but with North Texas trailing 13-4, UNT sophomore guard Ja'Michael Brown made a 3-pointer to cap a 14-4 run and give the Mean Green an 18-17 lead with 8:21 left in the half.
But Campbell scored on a baseline drive, hit two free throws and then scored on another drive to the basket to ignite a 14-2 run as USM led 31-20 at the break.
Campbell opened the second half with his third, 3-pointer of the game, and after two free throws by senior forward Raheem Watts and a dunk by sophomore guard Kevin Holland, the Golden Eagles had opened an 18-point lead at 38-20.
USM built the lead to 21 points, 53-32, with 6:48 to play before North Texas came screaming back.
The Mean Green got within 64-55 on a trey by senior Deckie Johnson with 1:41 to play, but USM withstood the late UNT push by hitting 10 of its next 14 free throws to keep the lead at 74-62 with 12 seconds to play.
Green hit a 3-pointer to get the Mean Green within nine points again, but only 4 seconds remained, and Edwards' free throw wrapped up the scoring.
USM will host Rice University (12-7, 2-4) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
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