USM runs out of steam, falls to Northern Colorado, 77-63

USM runs out of steam, falls to Northern Colorado, 77-63
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)

SIOUX FALLS, SD - The University of Southern Mississippi could not keep pace with the University of Northern Colorado Sunday morning, seeing a four-point halftime lead vanish in a 77-63 loss at the Sanford Pentagon Showcase.

USM guards Cortez Edwards (20 points) and Tyree Griffin (15 points) scored in double figures for a fourth consecutive game for the Golden Eagles, but the Bears got 24 points off the bench from hot-shooting guard Anthony Johnson and put three other players in double figures.

USM (3-3) split its four games in the Showcase, winning its opener against Blue Mountain College in Hattiesburg before dropping two of three games on its weekend trip to South Dakota.

The Golden Eagles lost Friday to the University of South Dakota before winning Saturday against Youngstown State.

Northern Colorado (5-2) has won five consecutive games, including a three-game sweep in Sioux Falls that gave the Bears the Showcase title.

USM led UNC 32-28 at halftime, but the Bears hit the Golden Eagles with a 13-4 run to start the second half. UNC followed that with a 15-0 run that left the Bears up by 20 points. USM got back within eight points with 16-4 surge of its own, but that was as close as the Golden Eagles would get.

Edwards, who averaged 18.3 points during the three-game trip, had six rebounds, three assists and three steals Sunday against the Bears.

Griffin, who averaged 15.3 points and 5.7 assists a game over the weekend, had six rebounds and six assists Sunday.

But USM struggled with its shooting touch Sunday, making just 41.3 percent of its shots from the floor.

The Bears did not struggle, hitting 53.7 percent of its field goal attempts, shooting at 60.7 percent clip in the second half.

Johnson was even hotter, connecting on 11-of-17 attempts, including 4-of-8 tries from 3-point range. He also grabbed five rebounds.

Guard Jordan Davis, who became Sunday the sixth player in UNC history to reach 1,000 career points, was held scoreless in the first half before finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Guard John Radebaugh pocketed his first double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and also blocked two shots, while guard Andre Spight added 10 points and four assists.

USM will remain on the road, traveling to Mobile, Ala., Wednesday to take on the University of South Alabama at 7 p.m.