For third consecutive season, Southern Miss beats USF on Senior Day.
By TIM DOHERTY
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2003
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- For a fourth consecutive season, South Florida was the guest at Southern Mississippi's Senior Night. For a third consecutive season, the Golden Eagles defeated the Bulls.
Southern Miss took advantage when USF went 11:39 without a basket as the Golden Eagles won 80-72 Saturday. It was the third consecutive loss for the Bulls (13-12, 6-8 Conference USA) and the fifth straight on the road.
"We just don't seem to win here," said Reggie Kohn, who tied season highs with 21 points and five 3-pointers. "I don't get it."
Southern Miss (12-14, 5-10) clinched the final spot in the C-USA Tournament.
"Our whole focus this week was to get this game," said Southern Miss guard David Haywood, who was 3-of-3 from 3-point range during two key runs in the second half. "Our goal was to make the tournament, so this feels great."
USF coach Seth Greenberg was not happy after watching his team lose a nine-point first-half lead because the Bulls didn't match the Golden Eagles physically.
"We weren't as tough as we needed to be," Greenberg said. "We got up (nine) and instead of dictating what we wanted to do, we let them get up into us and that changed the nature of the game. Our effort was terrific, but they were a lot more physical with us and we just weren't as tough."
It didn't start that way. When the Golden Eagles' defense focused on Will McDonald, the Bulls found open shots, making four of their first five 3-point attempts and taking a 20-11 lead.
Kohn's consecutive 3s gave USF a nine-point lead. After Jimmy Baxter's layup put the Bulls up 27-19 with 8:40 left in the first half, USF scored just four points, all on free throws, until McDonald's basket with 17:01 to go.
Southern Miss outscored USF 11-2 to end the first half and took a 30-29 lead. The Bulls tied it at 33 on McDonald's basket, but Haywood hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run that lifted the Golden Eagles to a 40-33 lead. USF's Jimmy Swift hit two baskets to tie at 42.
Southern Miss took the lead for good when Jasper Johnson hit a 3-pointer to make it 47-44.