USM wins in double OT

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Southern Mississippi coach Larry Eustachy has been waiting for his team to turn things up a notch and play the way he believes they can.

Craig Craft did just that on Tuesday, scoring a career-high 27 points and helping Southern Mississippi to 93-85 double-overtime win over UAB.

“UAB is a very talented basketball team. This just shows what we are capable of doing when we play like we are capable of,” Eustachy said. “It was a great win for us, one of the more memorable ones we’ve had since I have been here.”

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Southern Miss (12-10, 4-4 Conference USA) has won back-to-back games for the first time in over a month.

“I was feeling my shot early and everything just seemed to fall into place,” Craft said. “We needed this win because we need to put together a win streak.”

The Blazers (15-7, 5-2) had a three game win streak snapped.

“We showed a lot of character coming back on the road after being down as much as we were,” UAB coach Mike Davis said. “But we had chances to pull it out late in regulation and especially in the first overtime and we couldn’t get it done.”

Craft hit a quick jumper to open the second overtime and give the Golden Eagles the lead for good. Jeremy Wise sunk all eight of his free throws in the second overtime and the Golden Eagles outscored UAB 15-7 in the final session.

Wise added 19 points for Southern Miss and Andre Stephens chipped in 14 and had a game-high nine rebounds. Sai’Quon Stone and Courtney Beasley added 11 points apiece for Southern Miss.

Robert Vaden led UAB with 26 points, while Channing Toney added 17 and Lawrence Kinnard put 16 on the board.

The Golden Eagles led by as much as 14 on two different occasions in the first half, thanks mostly to the shooting of Craft and some solid rebounding.

The Golden Eagles led 37-25 at halftime.

But Vaden scored 15 points for UAB in the second half and the Blazers slowly chipped away at the deficit.

Vaden and Toney combined for 26 points in the second half, and Vaden’s shot inside the lane with 21 seconds to go in regulation tied the game at 72-72 and sent it into overtime.

The Blazers led by as much as three in the first overtime, but it took a free throw with 24 seconds left by Blazer guard Aaron Johnson to send the game into the second extra session at 78-78.

USM now travels toTulsa Saturday in C-USA play.