In the first half the Miners couldn’t hit water if they were in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The sound echoing most loudly, was the sound the ball made as it clanged off the rim, when the Miners shot. Let me give some credit to the Southern Miss team’s defense. They were at least partially responsible for the Miners poor shooting as they forced the Miners to shoot jump shots from outside. The Eagles came out ready, while the Miners seemed to be a little surprised at their intensity, and about a half step slow. The Miners defense, even though caught a little off guard, was still good enough to keep the Miners right there with the golden birds.
After 8 minutes of play, the score was tied at 10, and the Miners were 3 of 13 from the field. Three and a half minutes later, the Miners trailed by 6, at 13 to 19. The Miners switched to a 3-2 zone, and brought Myron Strong off the bench. He immediately made his presence felt with a steal and a layup. With 5:38 left in the half, the Miners trailed the Golden Eagles 20-24. Myron Strong made a shot, the Miners’ press forced a turnover and Strong dunked the ball, to tie the game at 24. Derrick Caracter hit a short jump shot , and the Miners took the lead. The Miners had stepped up their defensive intensity, and along with the spark Myron had given them they appeared to have gotten rolling. They were starting to get the ball to Caracter in the paint, too. But, the game was still close, and Horton’s three pointer put Southern Miss back in the lead, 27 to 26. With 1.2 seconds left in the half, Culpepper was sent to the line to shoot two free throws, and he got his first points of the game.
The second half got started with Moultrie hitting a couple of free throws, Culpepper forcing a turnover, and Caracter getting fouled. Eustachy called a time out to settle his team down. As soon as the ball was inbounded, Caracter took it up strong, and was fouled again, and sent to the line, where he hit one of two.
The teams took turns either turning the ball over, or making layups. Two and a half minutes into the second half, Arnette Moultrie stuffed one, and the score was 32-31. Almost four minutes into the half, Randy Culpepper hit two more free throws and got his third and fourth points of the game.
The game wasn’t pretty. The two teams were battling each other, hammer and tong, for every point, every rebound, and every basket.
Seven minutes into the half, the score was 36 to 35 Miners. Then, Strong drove for a layup, Culpepper made one of his tomahawk jams, and made two more free throws, and with 10 and a half minutes left, the Miners all of a sudden find themselves leading by ten. A short couple minutes later, with Myron Strong’s three pointer, and a Stone free throw, the Miners led by 15 at 53 to 38.
Then, Southern Miss scored the next 9 points, and with the lead cut to six, Coach Barbee called timeout. Four points later and with 1:25 seconds left in the game, the lead was down to two. Culpepper hit a free throw, and missed the next one with 58 seconds left, but Caracter grabbed the rebound, and put it back up and in, and the Miners were up by 5 at 58 to 53. Southern Miss’ Flowers hit a three point shot and pulled the Eagles to within two. The Miners turned the ball over on the inbound, put up a shot that missed, and Jeremy Williams got the rebound. He got the ball to Culpepper,who was fouled with 13.2 seconds left. he hit the first free throw to make the score 59 to 56. But, with the chance to make it a two possession game, he missed the second free throw. The Eagles grabbed the rebound and with time running out, Josimar Ayarza let go a three pointer. Both he and Caracter fell to the flow, but no foul was called, and the shot missed.
The Miners escaped with their eleventh win in a row, and a two game lead over Memphis who had just lost their game in Houston. It was time to exhale, and take a deep breath.