Southern Miss

Southern Miss clobbers UTSA

 Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler's team came up short in double overtime Thursday.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler's team came up short in double overtime Thursday. SUN HERALD

HATTIESBURG -- Southern Miss, the basketball team that lost their first six games of the season, beat Texas-San Antonio 86-70 in Conference USA action Saturday night and looked good doing it.

The win gives USM a 7-12 overall record and a 4-4 mark in league play.

In the win, the Golden Eagles had season-highs in points scored, 3-pointers (14) and assists (17).

And coach Doc Sadler was ecstatic.

"Eighty-four percent from the line, 17 assists, .500 in the league and we got a new football coach (Jay Hopson), what more is there to do?" Sadler said. "I'm excited. I believe in these guys."

Sadler could have mentioned the 3-point shooting in that sentence, too, as Southern Miss was 9 of 18 in the first half when they went ahead and 5 of 10 in the second half when they stayed ahead.

"They got us going, they got the guys on the bench going," said USM forward Raheem Watts, who made 4 of 6 from beyond the arc and finished with 19 points, a season-high for him. "The intensity level goes through the roof (when that happens)."

Kourtlin Jackson scored 20 points to lead the Eagles, followed by Watts with 19, Keljin Blevins with 14, Quinton Campbell with 13 and Khari Price with 12. It was the first time this season that five USM players scored in double figures.

The 3-point barrage started early, as Watts and Campbell each hit three for the Golden Eagles and Jackson made two.

For UTSA, the outside shooting wasn't so spread out as Ryan Bowie hit 4 of 8, including four of the first six he shot. Bowie, who came into the game averaging 16.8 points per game, scored 15 points in the first half and kept the Roadrunners in the game.

USM led almost all of the first half, soaring to a 19-9 lead at the 10:40 mark by hitting four straight shots.

"We got off to a good start," Sadler said. We made some baskets early and didn't dig us a hole."

But Bowie kept knocking them down, and it was only 26-24, Eagles, with 4:45 to go in the first half.

USM finished the half strong, however, as Watts nailed one 3-pointer and Campbell put in two more in the final 3:31.

USM increased its lead to 12 points early in the second half when Jackson put in another 3-pointer to make it 43-31 with 16:49 to play, then went up by 17, 64-47, when Watts hit a 3-pointer with 8:55 remaining.

Still, UTSA hung around, and cut it to nine, 66-57, with 3:58 to go.

Then it became a game of free throws, and UTSA lost. Fouling USM every time it got possession, the Eagles needed to make free throws to stay in command. And make them they did, sinking 20 of their final 22 shots from the line.

"It was huge," Sadler said. "(The Roadrunners) were down 14 to UTEP, and beat UTEP. They were down to Florida International, and came back. They were going to keep coming at us."

They did, as Bowie finished with 23 points and Christian Wilson scored 22, but USM's young team kept doing enough to hold them off.

Southern Miss will play at North Texas on Thursday in its next game.

"Doc is big on getting three in a row," Jackson said. "Why not?"