BEAUMONT, Texas — Lamar University struggled from the field, while Southern Mississippi recorded one of their best shooting performances of the season to defeat LU, 66-63, Tuesday evening at the Montagne Center. The loss drops LU to 1-5 on the season.
“We really didn’t start playing until the second half,” said LU head coach Tic Price. “Which is a repeat of what happened at UL Monroe. The difference is at Monroe we were able to get the shots we needed down the stretch. Our guys need to understand our games start at 7 p.m., not 7:45.
“Give credit to Southern Miss. That’s a good basketball team and they fought hard tonight. I’m proud of our kids for not giving up, but we’ve got to learn to play from the opening tip,” added Price.
The Cardinals finished the game shooting 19-of-53 (.358) from the field, after a 54-percent performance in the second half, but that wasn’t enough to overcome a 7-of-31 (.226) effort in the opening 20 minutes. Big Red also struggled from three-point range converting just 23 percent of their 22 attempts. LU did take advantage of their opportunities at the free throw line knocking down 20-of-22 (.909) attempts.
While LU was struggling offensively, the Golden Eagles put forth one of their best efforts of the season. Southern Miss knocked down 50 percent (26-of-52) of their attempts including nine three-pointers. The Golden Eagles also held the advantage on the glass, 36-27.
The Cardinals were led by 19 points from junior Davion Buster, while senior Ellis Jefferson added 10 points.
USM’s offense was paced by Artur Konontsuk’s 15 points.
The Cardinals never led in the game and trailed by as many as 16 point before chipping away at the visitor’s lead. LU pulled within a single point, 64-63, with 25 seconds on the clock and was forced to foul. Unfortunately, Big Red only had four team fouls at that time and USM was able to burn valuable seconds off the clock before being sent to the line for a one-and-one. The Cardinals got what they needed – a miss – from LaDavius Draine, but Konontsuk was there for the rebound. He got fouled and hit both attempts to push the lead back to three. Attempting to repeat his heroics from Monroe, the Cardinals got the ball in the hands of Buster who let fly a three with three ticks on the clock but the shot fell short and Southern Miss grabbed the final rebound.
The Cardinals will be back in action Saturday when they travel to Ruston, La. to take on Louisiana Tech. The game against Bulldogs will tip off at 1 p.m. from the Thomas Assembly Center.