Southern Mississippi had the last surge in a game of rallies Thursday night, as the Golden Eagles beat the Charlotte 49ers 63-60 on Tyree Griffin’s 3-point field goal with two seconds left.
The game-winning shot spoiled a big comeback by Charlotte, which overcame miserable first-half shooting and went on a 19-5 run in the opening 6½ minutes of the second half.
“We will learn from this,” said 49ers’ coach Ron Sanchez, whose team has lost three times in the past two weeks by three points or less.
“When you’re up by nine, you don’t let your foot off the pedal,” Sanchez said. “You work even harder.”
After trailing 27-22 at the half, Charlotte hit 9-of-16 shots to start the second half and went up 41-32 on a Jon Davis 3-pointer with 13:24 left.
Then the Golden Eagles rallied and built a 58-51 advantage at the 5:12 mark. The 49ers went nearly four minutes without a basket, turning the ball over five times.
But Charlotte had one more rally left, and the 49ers closed to 60-58 on a Davis free throw with 1:42 to play, then tied the game at 60-60 on a Davis jump shot 27 seconds later.
Each team was unable to score on its possession, and Southern Miss got the ball back with 28 seconds to play. The Eagles called time out with 17.5 seconds left, setting up Griffin’s winning shot.
The 49ers had a tough time penetrating Southern Miss’ defense from the outset, and eight of Charlotte’s first 11 shots were from three-point range. They connected only twice.
But free throws and rebounding kept the 49ers in the game. They shot only 27 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes (6-of-22), and their main offensive threats, Jon Davis and Milos Supica, were held in check. Davis scored four points and Supica had two in the first half – all from the foul line.
Yet they led four times and were down just 27-22 at intermission.
3 who mattered
Cooper Robb (Charlotte): A freshman who missed several weeks with a stress fracture, Robb had an excellent all-around game. He scored 12 points and added four rebounds and two assists.
Brandon Younger (Charlotte): Another freshman, Younger had nine points and seven rebounds, including two rebounds in the 49ers’ late run to tie the game.
Tyree Griffin (Southern Mississippi): If nothing else, he hit the winning shot. Griffin stood near center court, dribbling away the clock, then drove to the left wing and hit the decisive three-pointer. He finished with 10 points and had six assists.
▪ Charlotte’s season scoring leader, Jon Davis, finished with a game-high 20 points, but it wasn’t pretty. He hit 4-of-14 from the floor and added 10-of-11 from the foul line.
▪ Southern Miss focused much of its defensive effort on Davis and the 49ers’ No. 2 scorer, freshman Milos Supica. In 27 minutes, Supica shot only three times, making one. He had a team-high nine rebounds.
▪ The 49ers’ coaching staff wore green ties, to mark the Coaching for Literacy program. That is an effort by college basketball coaches to stress the importance of reading among elementary school-age students.
▪ A local connection on the Golden Eagles’ staff: senior guard Kevin Holland’s dad, Frank, coached USC Spartanburg (now USC Upstate) to the 1982 NAIA men’s basketball national title.
▪ Southern Miss leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.76).
▪ Southern Miss is the only Conference USA team not to allow an opponent to score 80 points this season.
They said it
“I think tonight is a perfect picture of what it looks like when we beat ourselves. ...We have to do a better job of handling the ball.” – 49ers’ coach Ron Sanchez.