Southern Miss returned to the Reed Green Coliseum Sunday afternoon for the first time in a month, falling to Louisiana Tech 76-62 after a late push by the Bulldogs.
With 3:51 remaining, Louisiana Tech led by only five at 65-60 after a three by Southern Miss’ DeAndre Pinckney but erupted on an 11-2 run to close the game with their second victory of the week over the Golden Eagles.
“We lost our detail on defense. I thought our defensive effort up until that point had been really good,” Southern Miss Head Coach Jay Ladner said.
To close the end of the first half, Louisiana Tech’s Keaston Willis hit a buzzer-beater three at the to give the Bulldogs a 30-26 lead.
Willis’ buzzer-beater was a taste of what was to come in the second period. While Southern Miss shot below 35% in the first half, they also kept the Bulldogs under that clip on defense before allowing a 62% from the field in the second half.
A bright spot for the Golden Eagles was the performance of forward DeAndre Picnkey, who set a career-high with 21 pts on 6 of 13 shooting, adding a double-double with 11 rebounds.
Southern Miss forward Tyler Stevenson also had a double-double tying his season-high of 21 pts and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of play.
Southern Miss led the rebounding category with a slight 40-38 margin and controlled the offensive glass 15 to 9 but could not garner the second chance point battle, losing 13-9.
“So many of our offensive rebounds were at the rim. We were all over the rim and struggled to get fouled there even though we had the ball at the rim,” Ladner said. “I thought our guys were very active on the offensive glass.”
The game saw many lead changes with eight and eleven ties, unlike the 80-57 thrashing on Thursday night in Ruston, Louisiana.
“We set down and played defense more today than we did Thursday. Our primary focus was cutting back on them getting offensive rebounds and playing defense for 40 minutes,” Ladner said.
Ladner gave credit to Louisiana Tech, who has now risen to 6-0 in conference play and an overall 15-3 record.
“[I] thought our guys played for 27 minutes toe to toe the other night in Ruston [and] I thought our guys played for roughly 37 minutes today,” Ladner said. “Overall, I was proud of our team against a really good team and a well-coached team.”
Louisiana Tech’s forward Kenneth Lofton Jr. dominated the Golden Eagles, scoring 23 pts, six rebounds and two assists on 10 of 16 shooting.
“He is a load. He is an outstanding player and headed to be All- American,” Ladner said. “He stepped out away from the basket and hit some face-up jump shots. The kid is skilled and a great young man. They have a heck of a player there.”
The Golden Eagles move to 5-11 on the season and 1-3 in conference play as they prepare to face non-conference opponent Southeastern Baptist College at home Wednesday, Jan. 19 in lieu of the previously canceled matchup against Loyola University New Orleans.