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HomeNewsArchivesSouthern Miss Edges La Salle 76-72 in Paradise Jam Overtime Thriller

Southern Miss Edges La Salle 76-72 in Paradise Jam Overtime Thriller

Nov. 23, 2008 — With Friday's winners taking the day off, Saturday gave the rest of the men's bracket an opportunity to put one in the win column in this year's Paradise Jam Basketball Tournament.
La Salle — which gave the University of Connecticut a good run Friday before falling by eight points — started off the night against a feisty Southern Mississippi team, which lost by 10 to Miami the day before. Playing in the University of the Virgin Islands' Sports and Fitness Center, both teams came out with a lot of energy, fighting early on for every loose ball. The La Salle Explorers started in a 2-3 zone, trapping the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at every opportunity.
The first 10 minutes of the game were relatively close, with La Salle taking an 11-9 lead. But the next 10 minutes would be a different story: La Salle slowed the pace down, and behind starting forward Rodney Green — who scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half — found itself up by 18 with just 1:40 left in the half. Two late baskets by the Golden Eagles closed the margin a little, but La Salle still took a double-digit lead into the break, 36-22.
The Explorers opened the second half pretty much like the first, slowing the pace down and moving the ball in search of the open shot. But with about 13 minutes left in the game the Golden Eagles, behind guard Jeremy Wise, began a comeback. Back-to-back shots by Wise cut the lead to 11 at 45-34. A three by Craig Craft then left the Eagles trailing by eight, 48-43.
Southern Mississippi, which played a run-and-gun pace in the first half, started slowing the tempo down and turned the game into a half-court battle. After a turnaround jumper in the paint by Courtney Beasley cut La Salle's lead to four with about seven minutes left in the game, the atmosphere started to get intense. A few moments later, back-to-back shots from R.L. Horton made it a one-point game, 59-58 La Salle.
Things got physical on the court, with both teams starting to scrap for every loose ball — but La Salle wasn't going away. Two free throws by Explorers forward Yves Mekongo Mballa pushed the lead back up to three, 61-58, with three minutes to go. Still down by three, and now with less than 90 seconds to go, a clutch three by Craft knotted the game at 63. But even after their fierce comeback, the Golden Eagles still found themselves down by two with 26.6 seconds left and La Salle holding the ball.
The Explorers got the ball inbounds, but two Golden Eagles converged on the ball, causing the La Salle player to travel. With 22.5 seconds now left in the game, and the Golden Eagles still down by two, Horton's pullup jumper knocked the score up again to 65. With little time left, La Salle's Vernon Goodridge found himself at the free-throw line with 1.8 seconds left. He missed both free throws, allowing SMU to grab the rebound and call a time out.
Now with 3.2 seconds left, SMU inbounded the ball at mid-court. A pass over the top found Wise open in the middle of the lane. But the ball rolled over the rim, and the game went into overtime.
It was all golden for the Eagles in overtime, and behind clutch shots from Horton, Southern Mississippi held on for the 76-72 win.
Wise led all scorers, finishing with 25 points on 8-17 shooting. Craft followed with 18. For La Salle, Green had 22 points, followed by Kimmani Barrett with 15.
In the final game Friday night, Wisconsin edged Iona 60-58. Wisconsin was led by Trevon Hughes, who dropped 21 points, and Jason Bohannon, who followed with 13 points.
For Iona, Jonathan Hoffman had 15 points off the bench, followed by Jermel Jenkins with 11.
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