Golden Eagles Come Away With Milestone Win at UTSA
Published 11:58 am Friday, January 7, 2022
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — For the first time in program history, the Southern Miss men’s basketball team went into the Convocation Center and walked out with a win against UTSA. That came by way of Southern Miss’ 74-73 win on Thursday night. The win gave the Golden Eagles their second consecutive win in a Conference USA opener after beating UTEP in overtime last season.
“I thought at times we executed really well,” Southern Miss head coach Jay Ladner said. “We worked so hard on defense to get a stop, but we would throw the ball away and by the same token, we may turnaround and make a beautiful play. I’m happy for our guys and coaching staff.”
The Golden Eagles started slow on the offensive end as Jaron Pierre, Jr. knocked down a three-pointer a minute into the ballgame and then did not hit a shot until Pierre knocked down another three-pointer at the 14:44 mark. Freshman Rashad Bolden drilled two free throws in that stretch, though. After that Pierre triple, Southern Miss went on an 8-0 run to build a 10-point lead just as the halfway mark of the first half started to inch up.
UTSA cut the lead to three after the Golden Eagles’ stretch, but junior Isaih Moore scored eight consecutive points to put the lead back to 10 with a tick under seven left in the half. Senior Tyler Stevenson hit a jumper to build the lead back to five, but UTSA’s Aleu Aleu had a 5-0 run of his own to tie the game as halftime approached. On cue, Bolden swooshed a three-pointer right before the Roadrunners made one of their own to send the Conference USA foes into halftime tied at 32-all.
For the half, Southern Miss shot 41.4 percent from the floor and knocked down three of its 12 three-point attempts. The Golden Eagles pulled down 17 rebounds in the opening frame, paced by Mo Arnold and Moore, who each had five. Pierre, Moore, and Bolden each had eight points at the break, while Pierre had a pair of three-pointers. The Golden Eagles held the Roadrunners to 30.6 percent shooting from the floor, but UTSA grabbed 26 rebounds.
The home team jumped to a five-point lead after hitting two shots straight out of halftime, but once again on cue, Bolden knocked down back-to-back jumpers to silence the Roadrunner crowd. The momentum swung back to the Black and Gold as a DeAndre Pinckney jumper started a 10-0 run to flip to score to favor the Golden Eagles by seven with 14 minutes remaining in the contest. Jordan Ivy-Curry put UTSA on his back and cut the Southern Miss advantage to one.
Stevenson scored on a turnaround jumper to get the Southern Miss bench on its feet and then Moore drilled home an alleyoop from Bolden that got the Golden Eagle fan section loud. Pierre followed with three consecutive three-pointers; UTSA was once again able to stay within reach before making it a three-point game with just over five minutes left. Sophomore guard Walyn Napper took over for the Golden Eagles as he hit two free throws and a pair of layups down the stretch to keep the lead with Southern Miss. UTSA cut it to a one-point game twice in final minute, but a last-minute defensive stand under the Southern Miss hoop secured the Golden Eagles their first Conference USA win.
The Golden Eagles shot 49.1 percent from the floor, hitting 28 shots on 57 attempts. They held UTSA to 38 percent from the floor and outscored the Roadrunners in the paint, 28-24. Southern Miss shot 57 percent from the floor in the second half and knocked down a trio of triples in the final 20 minutes. Bolden finished in double figures for the third consecutive game as the freshman finished with 17. Pierre finished with a team-high 21 points.
Pinckney finished with eight points, three points and three blocks. Stevenson inched closer to the 1,000-point mark en route to finished with 11 and six rebounds. Moore finished with 10 points and seven boards to go along with two blocks. Bolden finished with a team-high five assists.