With three seconds left in regulation, Drew Edward’s three pointer tied the Charlotte 49ers with the Southern Miss Golden Eagles sending the teams into overtime.
“Big win for our program,” Coach Jay Ladner said. “I feel like we had to win the game twice.”
In the first half, Southern Miss held the lead until Malik Martin’s jumper tied the score with less than two minutes left before half time. LaDavius Draine, responsible for 12 points and five rebounds in the first half, briefly gave Southern Miss the advantage with a jumper 30 seconds later. The half concluded with a score of 29-29 after a last second jumper by Jordan Shepherd.
Charlotte started the half with the lead; however, the Golden Eagles caught up with a jumper from Tyler Stevenson at the 13-minute mark. The 49ers continued to close the gap, ultimately tying the score for the fifth time.
“We didn’t do a good job executing at the end. We gave up a lot of open threes at the end of regulation,” Ladner said. “That’s my responsibility, and I have to make sure we are better prepared for that situation, but the great thing is we got to get that experience today and still win.”
Southern Miss scored five times in the five-minute overtime period. Leonard Harper-Baker started off with a jumper followed by a free throw from Artur Konontsuk, a jumper and free-throw from Tyler Stevenson and a final layup from Draine. The Golden Eagles clinched the win over Charlotte with a final score of 74-68.
“We talked about at the end of regulation that I know they were kind of deflated and thought, ‘Oh here we go again,’ but I said, ‘Hey guys, let’s go do it again. You have already out played them all game,’” Ladner said. “We did a much better job in overtime. We did a better job getting the ball in. We did a good job shooting free throws and obviously got some big shots.”
Stepping up for the Golden Eagles were Draine with 21 points and Harper-Baker with a career high 16 rebounds and a total of 10 assists.
“I just carried the shooting momentum from last game. I had a good second half, and it just carried over for me,” Draine said. “Yesterday in practice I was hitting a lot of shots, and it just carried over into the game today.”
With point guards Jay Malone and David McCoy ineligible, adjustments have been made to the Golden Eagles’ starting five. Konontsuk overcame his last performance of going 0-3 in field goal attempts against Old Dominion with 15 points and five rebounds against Charlotte.
“I think his worst game as a Southern Miss Golden Eagle was last game. He and I had a little man to man talk about that and he really responded,” Ladner said. “Artur is the X factor. He goes from zero last game to 15 tonight, and I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Other factors off the court that impacted the Golden Eagles were attendance and fan engagement. With 3,840 in the stands compared to 2,889 for the squad’s last game, the players can feel a difference.
“We definitely appreciate the fans coming out. It’s always appreciated,” Gabe Watson said. “I feel like they were big in our overtime win.”
The Golden Eagles will face Marshall on the road on Feb. 6 and Western Kentucky on Feb. 8 returning to Reed Green on Feb. 13 to host FAU.