Southern Miss heads into New Year with 2nd Sun Belt win

Published: Dec. 31, 2022 at 9:16 PM CST
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Southern Miss Sports Information

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Behind Austin Crowley’s 23 second-half points, the Southern Miss men’s basketball team squeaked out a 76-70 New Year’s Eve win over App State (7-8, 0-2 SBC). The Golden Eagles (13-2, 2-0 SBC) moved to 2-0 in Sun Belt play after downing the Mountaineers at Reed Green Coliseum.

“Our goal and vision is the same as it was since we arrived, and that’s help return Southern Miss basketball…back to its rightful place of national respect in men’s basketball,” said Southern Miss head coach Jay Ladner. “I’m pleased with where we are headed, but we are not there yet.”

After going three minutes without a field goal late in the second half, App State pulled out to a seven-point lead and caused some early panic for the 3,192 in attendance at Reed Green Coliseum. The run that the Golden Eagles endured would eventually see them trail at the break for only the third time this season.

The three-point lead for App State at halftime came after Donovan Gregory knocked down two free throws with 28 second left to end a Southern Miss run. Jeffery Armstrong knocked down a driving bucket and then DeAndre Pinckney made two free throws to make it a one-point game before Gregory’s trip to the line.

Pinckney led all scorers heading into halftime with 11 points, while Crowley only had seven before finishing with a career-high 30 points. Southern Miss’ struggled from three-point land continued in the first half as it went 2-of-9 from deep. Felipe Haase had a quiet first half with only four points to his name.

Things looked bleak as App State quickly took a five-point lead after Gregory made the Mountaineers’ first basket out of the locker room. Nine lead changes followed that App State basket before Southern Miss took the lead for good with 13:23 left in the ballgame.

Crowley pulled up from deep to knock down a three-pointer that put Southern Miss ahead by two and Pinckney flushed a dunk that got the Golden Eagle faithful out of their seats in a hurry. A 19-3 run followed that culminated in a Haase three that put Southern Miss up by 18 with six minutes to go.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Crowley said. “I’m so glad to be here. My teammates have embraced me since I got here…When I went into the locker room these guys congratulated me and are telling me it’s my first 30-ball. It’s crazy the love we have for each other. I’m glad I got to experience it with these guys, but as long as we keep winning, I’m doing good.”

However, App State answered with an 14-1 run to cut it to a four-point game. For the second consecutive Sun Belt game, Southern Miss connected on seven free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Haase, Crowley and Mo Arnold stood stall at the charity stripe to ice the 76-70 win. Haase went on to finish with 13 points, while Arnold had three. Pinckney added 13 points to finish in double figures for the fifth-straight game.

Crowley’s four three-pointers were part of Southern Miss’ six as a team. Pinckney and Haase had the other two. Armstrong, who drew a big charge in the second half, had four points and two assists.

The Golden Eagles shot 50 percent from the floor and limited App State to a 46.3 percent shooting clip. The Mountaineers connected on eight three-pointers, while five of them came over the final five minutes.

Up Next

Southern Miss will hit the road for a four-game road trip that starts at Louisiana on Thursday, Jan. 5. Tipoff in Lafayette is set for 7 p.m. It will then take on ULM Saturday afternoon.

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