Charleston Southern vs Southern Miss

    Southern Miss. 78, Charleston Southern 71

    •  

    HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Jonathan Mills tried to put away Charleston Southern. So did Neil Watson. Neither could do it.

    Instead, it was four points in the final 20 seconds from unheralded Rashard McGill that gave Southern Miss a 78-71 victory over Charleston Southern in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

    The victory snapped a nine-game postseason losing streak that dates back to 1988. McGill hit an 18-foot jumper and two free throws - his first and only four points of the game - in the most crucial possessions of the night to seal the victory.

    The crowd gasped when McGill took the surprising jumper with Southern Miss (26-9) clinging to a 74-71 lead. But Watson wasn't worried.

    "I knew (McGill) was going to make it," Watson said. "He's one of the guys I go to the gym with late at night and we work on shots, play 1-on-1 or just shoot a lot of 3-pointers to stay in the rhythm. And once he went to his 1-2 dribble, I knew it was going up and it was going to be good. There was no doubt in my mind even though he hadn't hit a shot. I knew it was going to money."

    Mills led the Golden Eagles with 16 points and Watson added 15 to lead five players in double figures.

    Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall was worried about Charleston Southern's ability to pull the upset, especially considering the Buccaneers average nearly 10 3-pointers per game.

    But it was the Golden Eagles who got hot from long range, hitting 6 of 10 in the first half and 10 of 19 (52.6 percent) for the game.

    Southern Miss built a 13-point lead in the first half and another 12-point advantage in the second half. But every time it looked as if the Golden Eagles had things in control, Charleston Southern responded with a run.

    The Buccaneers, who were the Big South regular-season champions, pulled to 74-71 with 51 seconds left on Saah Nimley's 3-pointer, but could get no closer. Nimley led the Buccaneers with 24 points. Arlon Harper had 18.

    "We expected it. They're not a bad team - they're good and they're scrappy," Mills said. "They run the floor well and they can shoot it. We weren't surprised that they came out and played hard."

    Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh was pleased with his team's effort.

    "We played like we belong here, like we're a postseason tournament team," Radebaugh said. "That was a great experience that will lead us into a great spring and a great summer and an even better next year."

    Southern Miss will play Louisiana Tech in the second round on Monday. The Golden Eagles lost a road game to Louisiana Tech 65-55 earlier this season.

    -----

    Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

    Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
     

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    Charleston Southern Buccaneers
    M. Muo, F385-182-452316
    P. Gombwer, F344-80-06039
    A. Fullah, C141-50-25012
    S. Nimley, G398-161-155224
    A. Harper, G355-106-944418
    M. Bernard230-10-14530
    M. Kennedy80-10-00010
    C. Bowen40-12-20002
    S. Strickland30-00-00000
    J. Williams20-00-00000
    Totals 23-6011-1934161771
     38.3%57.9% 
    Southern Miss Golden Eagles
    J. Mills, F366-84-593116
    D. Boardingham, F234-72-221210
    D. Davis, G355-103-565315
    N. Watson, G324-61-235110
    J. Brooks, G285-80-003214
    R. McGill251-42-24024
    C. Jenkins143-50-01019
    N. Carey50-20-02010
    D. Edwin20-00-00000
    Totals 28-5012-1630171378
     56%75% 
    Big South
    TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
    Winthrop15-326-770
    UNC-Ash.15-323-1073
    Liberty14-421-14173
    Gardner-Webb11-719-14186
    High Point9-915-16235
    Radford8-1014-18227
    Campbell7-1119-18247
    Char. So.7-1112-19295
    Longwood3-156-24343
    Presbyterian1-175-25347

    Conference USA
    TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
    Middle Tenn.17-131-535
    La. Tech14-423-10117
    Old Dominion12-619-12136
    UTEP12-615-17222
    Rice11-723-12168
    Marshall10-820-15112
    UAB9-917-16198
    Western Ky.9-915-17226
    UT-San Antonio8-1014-19264
    Charlotte7-1113-17243
    FAU6-1210-20282
    So. Miss6-129-22331
    FIU3-157-24337
    North Texas2-168-22339
     
    Other games
    NCAT 73 Final
    LIB 72
    STMA 67 Final
    MIDTN 54