USM beats UTEP

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, February 1, 2007

Southern Mississippi was looking to end a three-game losing streak against visiting Texas El-paso and avenge a blowout loss to the Miners just two weeks ago.

Craig Craft and Sai’Quon Stone made sure the streak came to an end Wednesday night.

Craft and Stone each scored a career-high 22 points, as the Golden Eagles beat UTEP 87-78 in Conference USA play.

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Craft added a career-high 11 rebounds as well. Southern Miss (14-6, 4-3) beat the Miners (12-10, 4-4) for the first time in four tries since UTEP joined the league two seasons ago.

The Golden Eagles made 34 of 39 shots from the free-throw line, including going 8-for-8 in the final 50 seconds to seal the win.

“It’s our home court, and we have to protect the home court because that’s what good teams do,” said Stone, who was 14-of-15 from the charity stripe. “It was the second time in a week that Stone made his presence felt from the line, after he hit 17-of-20 in a win over East Carolina last week.

“That’s a part of the game that we work hard on everyday in practice,” Stone added. “That’s another part of taking care of business at home.”

The win allowed Southern Miss to finish 5-4 in January, the first time in six years the Golden Eagles had a winning record in that month.

“It was a good win for us. We hadn’t been very good against these guys lately,” Southern Miss coach Larry Eustachy said. “They beat us pretty good at their place, and I thought our guys showed a lot of character tonight. They played well enough to pull it out.”

Courtney Beasley added 17 and Jeremy Wise 13 for the Golden Eagles, who put four players in double figures.

Stefon Jackson paced UTEP with 20, as the Miners dropped their third straight game and have now lost four of their last six.

Southern Miss hit 58 percent of its shots in the first half, taking a 47-46 advantage at halftime.

The Golden Eagles host Tulane on Saturday.