Southern Miss (17-10, 9-6 C-USA) was unable to extend its six-game winning streak to seven following a 76-72 overtime loss to UAB in the team’s first bonus play matchup on Saturday. The Golden Eagles defeated the Blazers 73-68 in the first matchup between the two teams this season on Jan. 12.
“It was obviously a disappointing game, but you got to give UAB credit,” Southern Miss head coach Doc Sadler said. “They made some plays when we had them in position to take control. We can’t make defensive mistakes and mental mistakes on that end. We didn’t make them work for their baskets. We gave them easy baskets during the end of the game.”
At the start of the first half, both teams traded baskets in what seemed to be a defensive battle. Southern Miss led 9-6 early, but UAB was able to tie the game up at the 8:58 mark and the 4:12 mark. Still, a jump shot by redshirt junior Tim Rowe with just over a minute remaining allowed Southern Miss to take a 29-25 halftime lead.
Redshirt senior Tyree Griffin, redshirt junior Leonard Harper-Baker and sophomore LaDavius Draine all combined for 19 points in the first half. Senior Cortez Edwards also managed to notch six rebounds, including five defensive boards. Southern Miss shot 10-for-25 from the field on 40 percent shooting and 3-of-8 from three-point range in the half.
During the second half, both teams went back-and-forth in the scoring department like they did in the first half, but both teams could not grab a large enough lead to put the game out of reach.
With 22 seconds left in the game, Draine hit two free throws to push the Southern Miss lead to 64-61. However, UAB hit a subsequent three-pointer with seven seconds left to force the game into overtime.
Griffin struck first in overtime for the Golden Eagles with a quick jump shot, but UAB scored eight of the final 10 points scored in the extra period to come away with the win. The loss is the first for Southern Miss since a 66-63 loss to Western Kentucky at home on Jan. 24.
Griffin led with all Southern Miss scorers with 20 points and 10 assists. Edwards also finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Coach Sadler talked about what he sees moving forward for the team.
“Every game from here on out will come down to the last minute or two of the game,” Sadler said. You got to make free throws and we can’t get comfortable.”
Southern Miss will continue conference bonus play against Western Kentucky on Sunday, March 3. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.