USM stays perfect at home, holds off Rice 86-75

USM stays perfect at home, holds off Rice 86-75
USM (9-9, 2-3), which saw a two-game winning streak snapped. (Photo source: USM)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Home continues to be kind to the University of Southern Mississippi men's basketball team.

Junior guard Dominic Magee returned from a two-game absence Thursday night to score a game-high 22 points as the Golden Eagles built a 20-point lead with about seven minutes to play and then outlasted Rice University 86-75 at Reed Green Coliseum.

The Golden Eagles shot 54.5 percent from the floor, knocking down 11-of-23 shots from three-point range (47.8 percent), while handing out 23 assists on 30 baskets and turning the ball over just eight times.

"Offensively, it was one of our better games of the season, especially against the zone (defense)," USM coach Doc Sadler said. "There was a stretch in the second half of about seven or eight minutes where I don't think we can play much better than that."

USM junior guard Cortez Edwards posted his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 assists and came up with half of his team's 12 steals as the Golden Eagles (10-10, 3-4 Conference USA) remained unbeaten in eight home games, including all three of its conference victories.

USM has scored at least 85 points in each of its C-USA home games.

"We shot the ball well at home again," Sadler said. "We shot 54.5 percent (from the field), made 15-of-16 from the free-throw line, and that was the difference.

"The only disappointing part was when we got up 20 points, our guys don't understand how quickly 20 points can disappear."

Rice (4-15, 1-5) shot a blistering 58.3 percent from the floor for the game, and that shooting touch allowed the Owls to rally after USM went up 75-55 with 7:05 to play.

Rice scored on seven of eight possessions in a 19-5 run, and when sophomore guard Ako Adams made a free throw with 1:02 to play, the Owls were within 80-75.

"It's like I told the team, no matter what, whether they are up 20 or down 20, Rice is going to play the full 40 minutes," Sadler said. "We knew that and they did."

But freshman LaDavius Draine stalled the comeback when he pulled up along the baseline and popped an 8-footer with 35.6 seconds to play. Magee then scored the game's final four points on a pair of free throws and a slam dunk after one of Rice's 22 turnovers.

"LaDavius's shot there, that was huge," Sadler said.

Draine, who has scored in double figures since to returning to regular playing time in last three C-USA games, finished with 16 points off the bench. USM junior point guard Tyree Griffin added 14 points and handed out six assists.

Adams, who had averaged 17 points a game over the Owls' last three games, scored a team-high 18 points, while freshman forward Malik Osborne scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds for Rice.

USM will remain home to welcome North Texas University at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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