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Golden Eagles Fall to South Alabama on Buzzer-Beater

HATTIESBURG, Miss.— In what was Southern Miss’ best-played game of the year, South Alabama’s Kayo Goncalves hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the wing that bounced high off the rim and fell in for a 76-75 decision on Saturday afternoon.

Tae Hardy made two clutch free-throws with 27 seconds left for a 74-73 lead, and after Tyler Stevenson drew a charge with eight seconds left, Jaron Pierre Jr. was fouled deep in the backcourt. He made the first and missed the second.

“Well, I’m hurting for our team,” head coach Jay Ladner. “They worked real hard. Give that kid credit. The thing bounced near the top of Reed Green and fell in. We had a great stop and huge charge taken by Tyler Stevenson. We did a great job in-bounding the ball to Jaron Pierre, who had a bit of a coming-out party today. He’s a clutch player. We didn’t have the opportunity to press due to the second miss, but you can’t fault him.”

Pierre was a force in what was his first-career start, scoring 11 of the team’s first 13 points en route to a 25-point, 10-rebound performance. He was also 6-for-11 from deep.

South Alabama (5-2) had a 7-0 run over 1:25 to tie it at 43 with 15:55 left. LaDavius Draine was able to give the Golden Eagles a reprieve with his second trey of the game, a wide-open look from the wing. A four-point play by Tyreke Locure at 13:11 gave the Jaguars their first lead of the game.

Southern Miss (1-3) responded with four consecutive three-pointers for a 12-2 run, taking a 63-56 lead at 6:38. The Jaguars regained the lead with 51 seconds left.

The Golden Eagles led 37-31 at the half.

“We had a few costly turnovers, but overall it would have been a shame for either team to lose, especially on such an incredible shot,” Ladner said. “We led for 33 minutes and 29 seconds. I told our guys I was proud of them. We have a bunch of young guys playing their first Division I basketball games. Tonight, we saw the team we are capable of having. We played well enough to win. No game is won or lost on the final play, but rather the whole thing.”

Southern Miss will hit the road again for a Tuesday night contest at Lamar (7 p.m.).

NOTABLE
-The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series 26-19.
-Southern Miss set its season-high for three-pointers (8) by halftime and finished with 15, which tied for fifth in school history (most since the 2018-19 home finale against UTSA).
-Draine’s five threes, on 11 attempts, moved him up to 187 for his career, seven away from Casey Fisher for No. 2 in school history.
-Draine’s 19 points also give him 961 in his career.
Jaron Pierre, Jr. became the ninth Golden Eagle to earn a nod in the season’s first four games. He’s the fifth of that group to be earning their first-career nods.
Tae Hardy had eight assists and no turnovers over his 20 minutes off the bench.