HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - D'Angelo Richardson said he thought his first crack at hitting the game-winning shot in overtime Thursday night at Green Coliseum was going to be good.
But when it came to a second chance less than six seconds later, The University of Southern Mississippi's junior guard said he knew it was going in.
Richardson might have been the only one, but he could not have been more right.
His desperation, 25-foot heave just inside the sideline in front of the top of the USM bench swished through the net with just 0.4 seconds to play to give the Golden Eagles' a 69-66 victory over visiting Florida International University.
The Golden Eagles (8-18, 5-9 Conference USA) survived a three-quarter-court shot by the Panthers that caught nothing but air and then buried Richardson in a delirious dogpile at the court's far baseline.
"That's what college athletics are supposed to be about," USM coach Doc Sadler said. "This group of guys has not had a lot of things to celebrate, they really haven't, and for them, in the next-to-the-last home game, to able to do that, it's a moment that they'll remember for the rest of their lives. So, it's kind of neat."
USM snapped a three-game losing streak, despite an offense that flickered and glimmered throughout the game like a lamp with a loose wire.
The Golden Eagles managed just 15 points in the first half and trailed by seven at the break after watching the Panthers rip off an 11-2 run over the final 5:44.
Senior forward Quinton Campbell sparked the Golden Eagles initial rally in the second half, scoring 11 of his career-high 28 points in a spree that hewed a 16-point FIU lead to five with 8:36 to play.
"I did not want to lose this game," said Campbell, who had the most points by a Golden Eagle in a game this season. "I was not going to lose this game. So, the first thing that came to mind was, 'Keep playing.'"
Still trailing just 46-41, USM saw the Panthers (6-20, 2-11) knock down back-to-back 3-pointers to push their lead back to 11 points, 52-41, with 5:23 to play.
But USM sophomore guard Cortez Edwards scored nine points in a 15-0 run, including a 3-pointer and two steal-and-slams, that not only allowed the Golden Eagles to tie the game at 52-52, but take a 54-52 lead on Richardson's two free throws and go up by four points with 1:48 to play on Campbell's layup.
FIU center Michael Kessens slam made it 56-54, before Campbell somehow wrapped the ball in the basket from the baseline to make it a four-point game again.
FIU guard Eric Nottage dropped a trey to pull the Panthers to within one, and after Richardson's two free throws, Nottage connected on a 3-pointer with 18 seconds to play that tied the game.
When Campbell air balled his final shot in regulation, the teams headed for overtime.
FIU scored the first six points in overtime to go up 66-60, but Campbell hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game with 1:04 to play.
The Golden Eagles forced a traveling call on Kessens to set up their final possession.
With the clock winding down, Campbell drove the lane before passing the ball out to Richardson in the left corner. His uncontested 3-pointer missed, but Edwards was able to scrape the loose ball out of the lane and get up a shot from point-blank range.
It missed with about three seconds to play.
But Campbell was able to tip the ball out toward the left wing, where Richardson tracked it down, pivoted, and launched the game-winner just over the outstretched fingers of the 6-foot-9 Kessens.
"I thought the first one was going in, so when it missed, I was like, 'Dang, and went to get back (on defense), hoping I could get a steal," Richardson said. "But when (Campbell) got it out there toward me, I just figured that was my second chance and I just capitalized on it. I knew that shot was going in the moment it left my hand."
Edwards logged the third, double-double of his career with 16 points and 10 rebounds and also had five assists and four steals. Campbell added six rebounds and two steals.
Richardson scored seven points, but his game-winner was his only basket of the night in four attempts from the floor.
FIU lost for the fifth time in its last six games despite four players with at least 11 points.
Forward Elmo Stephen scored a team-high 17 points, while Nottage added 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Guard Donte McGill scored 14 points, while Kessens finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
USM will host Florida Atlantic University at 4 p.m. Saturday in the final home game of the season at Green Coliseum.
Southern Miss (women) 75, Florida International 37
MIAMI - Freshman forward Respect Lephart scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, while five other Lady Eagles scored either eight or nine points in USM's most lopsided win of the season.
USM (17-9, 9-5 C-USA) won for the sixth time in seven games, outrebounding the Lady Panthers 48 to 27.
Senior forward Lashyra Cotton scored nine points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, while junior guard Molly Brown added a career-high nine points
Senior guard Brittany Dinkins had eight points, six rebounds and five assists, while junior forward Jayla King and sophomore guard Megan Brown each scored eight points.
Guard Kristian Hudson led the Lady Panthers with 15 points and seven rebounds, while forward Kayla Rogers added 12 points and three assists.
USM will stay on the road, traveling to Florida Atlantic University for a 4 p.m. tipoff Saturday.