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Southern Miss Falls in Season Opener at Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Golden Eagles could not get much luck on the offensive end and fell 66-51 to Jacksonville on Saturday in their season opener.

“I was a little apprehensive with so many new faces and no tune-up scrimmage to get things going,” head coach Jay Ladner said. “I wouldn’t say we were deer in headlights to start the game, but we knew Jacksonville relied on the three, and four of their first five shots were from there. We were slow to close out and get to the shooters, and they made us pay.”

The Dolphins (2-0) scored the game’s first nine points and led 26-20 at the break after hitting a late three. The largest lead was 34-23, and the Golden Eagles twice got within four in the second half before the Dolphins extended it further than that.

Jaron Pierre, Jr.’s three-pointer with 11:40 left cut the deficit to 40-36 and was the Golden Eagles’ first after seven previous attempts.

“We had to play from behind the rest of the day,” Ladner said. “With all our new faces, I was proud of the way we fought the last eight minutes of the first half. I thought we played with the type of effort we had to play with, but we just didn’t perform well in general. I take responsibility for that, and I have to get our guys ready for that.”

Tae Hardy and Justin Johnson led the team with 15 and 10 points, respectively. Tyler Stevenson also had eight rebounds, followed by Hardy and Denijay Harris with seven apiece.

Southern Miss returns to action on Wednesday against William Carey (7 p.m.) for its home opener.

NOTABLE
-This was the first meeting between the schools since 2002. JU leads 4-3.
-Southern Miss has held six of its last seven opponents to under 40 percent shooting, dating back to last year.
Tae HardyJustin Johnson and DeAndre Pinckney earned starts in their Golden Eagle debuts. Tyler Stevenson and LaDavius Drainewere the others.
-Jaron Pierre Jr., Tyler MormanDenijay Harris and Jeffery Armstrong made their debuts as well.