Southern Miss Basketball ends season with most losses in program history

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Southern Miss ended its regular season Saturday afternoon against the Charlotte 49ers on a dismal note, dropping its fourteenth straight game of the season with a final 70-67 loss.

The losing streak is the second-longest in program history, only behind its winless 0-24 season in 1971. This loss broke the record in that season for the most losses in a single season at 6-25. 

“It’s been a very frustrating season. I know the frustration of people, and there’s nobody more frustrated than me,” Head Coach Jay Ladner said.

Southern Miss entered the game short-handed without its leading scorer Tyler Stevenson who missed the last three games with a hernia injury.

Southern Miss clawed back in the game after being down as many as 14 points in the second half, but failed to send it into overtime on a missed three-point attempt by forward Isaih Moore.

The Golden Eagles opened the first half as many this year, jumping out to a hot start, but it quickly became the same story on a different day. 

The 49ers seized control of the first half on a 23-3 run as the Golden Eagles only mustered three free-throw baskets for twelve minutes, starting at 12:12. 

At the half, Charlotte’s Jahnir Young, the second-leading scorer in Conference USA at 19.7 points per game, led the scoring for the 49ers with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. 

Young later finished with 21 points on 8 of 14 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. 

“We lost our composure. We just didn’t have veterans when we needed it from guys like Tae Hardy and Tyler Stevenson. It took us regrouping at half to play solid basketball again,” Ladner said.

Southern Miss outscored the 49ers 43-34 in the second half but the efforts weren’t enough.

With just 4.1 seconds remaining, Napper inbounded the rock to Moore for the shot, rising over at the defender missing the bank shot on bouncing off the back of the rim. 

“I thought it was a decent look and honestly thought when it left his hands it was going to go. [I] wish we could bank one in like others seem to do against us,” Ladner said. 

Moore and Napper accounted for all 12 of Southern Miss’ buckets under the three-minute mark.

Moore finished with a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. DeAndre Pinckney finished behind 17 points, five rebounds and three assists on five of eight shooting from the field.  

With another loss, the question lingers for Southern Miss: will head coach Jay Ladner return next season as it is all but certain the team will produce similar results in the C-USA basketball tournament starting next Tuesday. 

“Southern Miss basketball means a lot to people, but there is no one who it means more to than me. I’m indebted to Dr. Bennett and Jeremy McClain [Athletic Director] for the opportunity. I am excited about the future, and I’m working just as hard today as I worked hard yesterday. I’ll work just as hard tomorrow as I worked today to bring Southern Miss basketball back to national prominence, ” Ladner said.

“I fully expect to be here next season, and if my bosses decide to make a change with me, I’m thankful for the opportunity to coach at my alma mater, the school I love. I can’t really worry that it’s out of my control. What’s under my control is what we do on the floor, and I’m very aware that our win-loss record is not what it needs to be and not what I expect it to be.”

Ladner is 23-64 in his time at Southern Miss and has two years remaining on his original contract.

Ladner stated he hopes to start forward Tyler Stevenson and Guard Jaron Pierre Jr.as the C-USA tournament begins this Tuesday.

“Maybe if we can maintain what we’re doing and get Tyler and Jaron back, maybe we can maintain a run at this thing. I don’t think we are that far away,” Ladner said.

Guard Mo Arnold is ruled out for the year with an avulsion fracture in his hand for six weeks and possibly more if MRI scans return positive after the period. The injury occurred in the Feb. 21 matchup versus Marshall.