CANCUN, Mexico (WDAM) - CANCUN, Mexico _ Senior guard Tyree Griffin scored 18 points to help the University of Southern Mississippi bounce back from its first loss of the men’s basketball season with a 68-63 victory over Western Carolina University Wednesday afternoon at the Cancun Classic.
Griffin, who knocked down 9-of-11 free throws, added five assists, three rebounds and two steals as the Golden Eagles (4-1) locked down the Catamounts (1-5) late to win the Classic’s third-place game/Mayan Division at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya.
USM lost its first game of the year Tuesday, 64-48 to the University of North Florida (2-4)
“People are starting to understand the way we like to play,” USM coach Doc Sadler said. “We may have had some false impressions, as a team, since the first three games we shot the ball so well.
“We won’t do that every game. We had to get back to executing on offense.”
USM led 42-37 at halftime, but then saw the Catamounts regain the lead coming down the stretch. Western Carolina led 61-60 before Griffin scored on a three-point play and then assisted on a breakaway basket by fellow senior guard Dominic Magee.
The five-point flip put the Golden Eagles ahead 65-61 with two minutes to play.
Senior guard Coretz Edwards added 17 points and three steals for the Golden Eagles, Magee had 15 points and five rebounds and sophomore LaDavius Draine finished with 13 points and game-high-tying eight rebounds.
Junior forwards Stager Onna and Carlos Dotson and freshman guard Kameron Gibson scored 10 points each for West Carolina. But the Catamounts turned the ball over 20 times, with USM scoring 32 points off turnovers.
The Golden Eagles also capitalized at the free-throw line, hitting 20-of-28 foul shots.
USM returns home to Reed Green Coliseum at 2 p.m. Sunday to take on cross-town rival Wiliam Carey University.