For more than 30 minutes Saturday evening, the University of Southern Mississippi had its hands full at Green Coliseum with cross-town rival William Carey University.
But the Golden Eagles closed the game on a 22-10 run to claim a 75-58 victory over the visiting Crusaders.
“We did compete,” Carey coach Steve Knight said. “We’ve got a pretty good team … This will be a good experience for us.”
USM junior guards Cortez Edwards and Dominic Magee each collected a double-double as USM (7-3) won its fourth consecutive game. The Golden Eagles have defeated all four the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics opponents they have faced: Carey; Blue Mountain College; Southern-New Orleans University; and Rust College.
Carey (8-2) scheduled the game as an exhibition.
USM led just 28-26 at halftime, thanks in large part to an ice-cold shooting touch to open the game.
“You start the game 3-for-20, and that had a lot to do with the shots we were taking,” USM coach Doc Sadler said. “We only had three assists in the first half, so that means guys are looking for their own shots.
“In the second half, we did a much better job of that, with 12 assists on 18 (baskets).”
USM also took care of the basketball, committing just seven turnovers Saturday. The Golden Eagles have committed just 11 turnovers in their last five halves of play.
Carey scored the first six points of the second half to take a four-point lead, but USM regained a lead that seesawed between one point and four points for the first five minutes of the second half.
But a 3-pointer by USM junior guard Kevin Holland capped a 12-4 run that left the Golden Eagles ahead by 12 points, 52-40.
Carey scrapped back, cutting the lead to 53-48 with 9:29 to play on pair of free throws by guard Jaylen Moore. But junior guard Dominic Magee hit a 3-pointer and junior guard Tyree Griffin converted a three-point play to put USM back to a double-digit lead it would never lose.
“They got it back up to 11 just like that, and it’s hard to battle back from that,” Knight said.
Junior guard Cortez Edwards scored 28 points, just one point off his career-high of 29 that he put on Rust on Dec. 3. Edwards tied for the game-high with 12 rebounds and came up with two assists.
Magee finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Griffin added 14 points, all in the second half, and also came up with five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Moore led Carey with 14 points, while forward Brandon Sheppard had nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots. Guard Troy Salvant added 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.
USM will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to meet Florida State University at 6 p.m. Thursday and then travel to Jackson to take on Mississippi State University at the Mississippi Coliseum at 6 p.m. Saturday.