|Jack Duggan, Assistant Athletic Director/Media Relations
Hattiesburg, Miss. - Kourtlin Jackson scored 13 second-half points, and Rob Thomas added all nine of his scoring total over that span, as Southern Miss erased a four-point halftime deficit to beat FIU 66-60 Saturday night at FIU Arena.
The Golden Eagles (5-11 overall, 2-3 C-USA) won for the second time in the last three games, while snapping FIU’s three-game home winning streak in the process.
Jackson led Southern Miss with a game-high 23 points, while Keljin Blevins and Thomas added nine points each.FIU got 19 points from Donte McGill and Adrian Diaz – 17 in the first half from McGill and 17 from Diaz in the second half – to lead the Panthers in scoring, while Daviyon Draper added 13.Down 31-27 at the half, the Golden Eagles scored the first six points to start the second period and limited the Panthers to just 27.3 percent shooting (6-of-22) over the final half after they converted 44.4 percent in the first half (12-of-27).
“We started the second half with six consecutive stops and that’s a credit to our guys not only getting the initial stop, but also taking care of the defensive boards,” said Southern Miss second-year coach Doc Sadler.
“That was critical against a team like this that is so big.”
The first six points of the second half gave the Golden Eagles a 33-31 advantage with 16:45 to play. FIU, though, rallied with a free throw and back-to-back three-point plays by Diaz to give them a 38-35 advantage, but Southern Miss 11 of the next 13 points, with the last five coming from Thomas, giving the visitors a 46-40 lead with 10:27 to play.Southern Miss built its advantage to as many as 11 points after a Raheem Watts 3-pointer with 4:14 to play, but the Panthers rallied late in the game but FIU cut the gap to four with 29 ticks left at 63-59.
Jackson help keep the margin by hitting three of four free throws in the final 12 seconds to help seal the victory.
“I’m so proud of these kids because they just keep giving the effort,” said Sadler.
“Eventually good things happen and that’s what did tonight.”
After falling behind 7-0 in the contest, the Golden Eagles trailed by as many as eight points at 9-1, but fought back over the first half. FIU, behind 17 first-half points from McGill helped keep the Panthers offense going.Down 21-16 with 6:25 left after a Draper jumper, Southern Miss then outscored the Panthers 10-4 over the next 3:09 and took its only lead of the first half on a Cortez Edwards 3-pointer with 2:46 remaining in the half.
Draper again got a big completed a 3-point play with 2:02 left and Jason Boswell hit his only bucket of the first half, a 3-pointer with 1:30 left, to give the Panthers their four-point halftime advantage.
The Golden Eagles return to action next Saturday, Jan. 23, when they entertain Louisiana Tech at Reed Green Coliseum. Tip-off for the contest will be at 7 p.m.