(Photos/Tyron Dawson) (Graphic/Charlie Luttrell)
Wednesday night marked many historic feats for Southern Miss basketball as Tyler Stevenson fired on all cylinders and crossed a career milestone to help Southern Miss defeat Southeastern Baptist 100-50.
Stevenson was the star of the show as he put up a career-high-tying 29 points and made a career-high 13 made field goals. 25 of his points came in the first half alone.
“My teammates put me in good position to score the ball so I’ve got to give them that credit for helping me,” Stevenson said.
Coming into the game, Stevenson sat just nine points away from the milestone of 1,000 career points and he accomplished that quickly, scoring 11 points within the first seven minutes.
“[It’s] just a lot of work that I’ve put in, a lot of unseen work, my coaches helping me, my teammates and my family back home that really helped me with every aspect that comes with it,” Stevenson said.
With the basket, the forward walk-on cemented his legacy as just the 39th Golden Eagle to surpass 1,000 career points and the 17th player to have 500 career rebounds.
“The very first administrative decision that I made as a basketball coach here was after our very first practice when I realized he [Stevenson] was not on scholarship and we had a scholarship open, I called him in that day right after practice, and I said ‘timeout’…of course I wasn’t here [and] I didn’t realize that he wasn’t on scholarship…maybe that was the smartest thing that I did,” Ladner said.
Ladner attributed Stevenson’s work ethic and attitude to his success at Southern Miss.
As Stevenson dominated the first quarter, Jaron Pierre, Jr. and DeAndre Pinckney also finished with double-digit scoring performances, and everybody that played scored at least two points.
This contribution led to 39 of the team’s 100 points coming from off of the bench.
Ladner said that the bench players have come up with a nickname, combining “bench mob” with the “Nasty Bunch” to become the “Nasty Bench”.
“They worked hard and got to play some significant minutes and I thought they did really well…they scored some and I was pleased everybody scored for our team,” Ladner said.
The Golden Eagles started early and never looked back in the context, taking a 57-29 lead at halftime. The halftime total was the highest during Ladner’s tenure and the most points in the first half since Dec. 3, 2017.
The game was also the first 100-point performance since Jan. 26, 2019 against Marshall.
With the win, Southern Miss earns its second back-to-back win of the season and the team looks to carry its momentum as it returns to conference play with a game against Middle Tennessee Saturday at 1 p.m.