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Southern Miss soars past No. 19 JMU securing historic 81-71 victory

Southern Miss Athletics

Southern Miss basketball flew past No. 19 JMU on Saturday afternoon 81-71. The Golden Eagles handed the Duke’s their first loss of the season and ended the nation’s longest winning streak.

“Real proud of our team,” Southern Miss head coach Jay Ladner said. “Coach Juan has got our defense believing again. I thought our preparation was good. Our approach to the game was good. We battled and played the way you are supposed to play.”

It has been almost 13 years since Southern Miss last had a win of this caliber. Not even the win last season versus Louisiana tops this one regarding how signature of a win this is for Southern Miss, but Ladner himself.

The win gave Southern Miss its first win over a ranked opponent since beating No. 22 UCF
in 2011.

This is a Southern Miss team that was dealt an embarrassing loss to the hands of, at the time, winless Georgia Southern just a week ago. Now, they knock off undefeated JMU and claim one of the biggest wins in program history.

“We did the things we are supposed to do to beat an outstanding team.” Ladner said.

Teams generally want to rely on their best players in big games, and this afternoon was no different. Southern Miss senior guard Austin Crowley got the home team off to a fast start. He had 11 of the Eagle’s first 13 points to start the contest.

After JMU took a 6-4 lead, Southern Miss put together a few baskets back-to-back and took the lead 9-6. From then on, USM never lost the lead and stayed in control for most of the game.

At around the 13-minute mark of the first half, Crowley picked up his second foul and had to sit to preserve his fouls. Southern Miss relied on other players and ended up winning the entire stretch without Crowley, which was the rest of the first half.

USM led 13-10 when Crowley left and won the rest of the first half 31-25, taking a 44-35 lead into the locker room.

“I think that just put us in another time where we think ‘next man up,'” Crowley said. “It is not in a negative way. We just know we have guys on the team that they work out, they are on the court, and they are in practice with us.’

The Golden Eagles were aided by the sharpshooting of Cobie Montgomery, who lifted the Eagles with his efforts with 12 points along with two three-pointers. He is Crowley’s workout partner, and he filled his shoes in his absence exceptionally well.

“When he [Crowley] came out the team has confidence in me to come and step up,” Montgomery said. “And I try to keep the momentum going for the team.”

With Crowley back on the floor in the second half, USM never gave up the lead and even got the lead out to as much as 15 points. Crowley finished with 15 points, including 9-9 from the charity stripe.

JMU had one last spurt in them, going on an 11-0 run late in the second half to pull the lead to within four. However, a quick 7-0 run by USM put them ahead by double digits, and it was just milking the clock from that point on.

“It was a very high-level, well fought basketball game.” Ladner said. “If you didn’t get your ten dollars’ worth or whatever we charge for that game, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Southern Miss also got a big help from their forward Victor Hart, who finished with 16 points, and Andre Curbelo, who finished with 15 and nine assists.

Southern Miss shot 49.1% from the field, while JMU shot 39.4% from the floor. JMU had entered the game as the Sun Belt’s top-scoring offense and second in three-point shooting.

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  • K

    Kenny Robinson | Jan 6, 2024 at 6:32 pm

    Congratulations to the players and coaches tonight for a great win!!SMTTT