Golden Eagles grab win over South Alabama in return to Reed Green

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 11:14 PM CST
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Southern Miss Sports Information

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - In front of the largest crowd of the Jay Ladner era, the Southern Miss (16-4, 5-2 SBC) men’s basketball team claimed bragging rights of Highway 98 in a 76-72 win over South Alabama (8-11, 2-5 SBC) on Thursday night.

Austin Crowley impressed the 4,128 fans in attendance at Reed Green Coliseum with a 25-point performance.

The Crowley show got started early as the junior guard accounted for eight of Southern Miss’ first 10 points. The Golden Eagles enjoyed a quick start as they jumped to an 11-point lead on the Jaguars just over five minutes into the game.

At the 14:23 mark of the first half, The Greenhouse faithful gave Neftali Alvarez a standing ovation when Puerto Rican guard checked in for the first time since Nov. 14. Alvarez went on to log 10 minutes of action, finishing with one assist and a block.

The walls of Reed Green Coliseum nearly busted down in that stretch when Crowley took a South Alabama turnover and threw down a one-handed slam. Despite the momentum favoring Southern Miss, South Alabama managed to go on an 8-0 run to make it a one-point game with 6:23 left in the half.

Felipe Haase and Victor Hart tried to fend off the Jaguars late in the first half with a flurry of points, but South Alabama managed to take its first lead of the game with 2:08 on the clock. Isaiah Moore extended the lead to five before Denijay Harris and Crowley cut it to two with time winding down.

Southern Miss was poised to head to the locker room down two, but Kevin Samuel beat the buzzer to make it 37-33 at the break. After their sizzling start, the Golden Eagles were limited to a 38 percent shooting clip in the first half thanks to a six-minute scoring drought.

Crowley scored 15 of his 25 points in the first half, including one three-pointer. Southern Miss was able to tie the game and then retake the lead within the first four minutes of the second half after DeAndre Pinckney connected on a pair of three-pointers.

The lead never grew larger than four until a 6-0 run was capped off with another Crowley hammer to put Southern Miss ahead by eight.

Up 56-48, that lead quickly vanished as the Jaguars used a 7-0 run to pull right back within one. Greg Parham II then gave South Alabama a 60-59 lead after a three-pointer with 8:02 left in the game.

The Golden Eagles and Jaguars played hot potato with the lead for the next six minutes. Then game the Haase dagger. The Chilean converted an and-one over Samuel that put Southern Miss ahead by three with 59 seconds to play.

Haase and Crowley then converted three free throws down the stretch to ice the four-point win.

The win was Southern Miss’ 16th of the season and ninth at Reed Green Coliseum. Its 9-0 start at home is tied for the third-best in the last 20 seasons.

Haase finished with 18 points, his most since dropping 19 against McNeese on Dec. 18. Pinckney added 18 points and six rebounds to finish in double figures for the 14th time this season.

Coming off a career-high 22-point performance at Arkansas State, Harris chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds. He went an efficient 5-of-8 from the floor.

Both teams went 5-of-26 from beyond the arc, while Southern Miss shot 40 percent from the floor.

The Golden Eagles will face James Madison at Reed Green Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. The Dukes are coming off an 89-87 overtime win over Troy on Thursday night.

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