Southern Miss advances to Conference USA Semifinals with win over Marshall

By STAFF REPORTS,

FRISCO, Texas – Southern Miss withstood Marshall's 17 three-pointers to hold on for an 82-73 win in Thursday night's Conference USA quarterfinal, defeating the league's defending champ in tournament play for the second consecutive year.

Marshall (19-14, 11-7 C-USA) were on a six-game win streak heading into the night, but Southern Miss took its third in a row and ninth win out of the last 11 games.

The Golden Eagles (20-11, 11-7 C-USA) will now play WKU at 3 p.m. inside the Ford Center at The Star, seeking revenge after 66-63 and 76-71 defeats to the Hilltoppers this year. Fans can catch the game on CBS Sports Network.

"(Western Kentucky) is a much more physical team," Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said. "The thing that concerns me a little bit is 3-point shooting. I told the team before I came down here, a lot of guys who didn't play tonight is going to have to play in the first half tomorrow. We have to get them in the game. We can't get down in the last six or seven minutes with guys having played 30 minutes, so we're going to play a lot of guys, try to stay as fresh as we can and hopefully it pays off for us."

Tyree Griffin was again the team's spark plug, leading the way with 23 points and eight assists, the latter putting him in a tie with Dallas Dale (1991-92) for the single-season record of 222.

The game was tied at 65 before LaDavius Draine's three-pointer with 4:29 to go. Marshall stayed within 74-71 after a dunk with 2:07 to go, but two Tyree Griffin free-throws and another Draine triple with 1:15 left made it a 79-71 game and essentially putting it away.

Draine's six three-pointers were one off a season-high seven he made against UTEP on Feb. 16. He has now tied LaShay Page (2011-12) for No. 7 in single-season school history with 75 triples. Up next is David Wall (1999-00) at 78. It was Draine's third-career, 20-point game, and it came in a personal-best 33 minutes.

"I have as much confidence in this basketball team as any coach could have," Sadler said. "You've got, in my opinion, the best point guard in the league (Griffin), you have Cortez Edwards, who is one of the best players in the league, Draine is one of the best shooters and then we have some very, very good complementary players. None of them care who is the guy getting it done, and that's why I think this team is having some success."

NOTABLE

-Southern Miss (42-38) led at the half for the 11th-straight game, shooting 63 percent in the period (17-for-27).

-The Golden Eagles are now 6-2 in March the last two seasons.

-Leonard Harper-Baker (16 points) came within one rebound of his fifth double-double. He also had a career-high five assists.

-Southern Miss out-rebounded Marshall 39-20, including allowing just one offensive board.

-The Golden Eagles avenged an 85-75 defeat to Marshall in the 2018 C-USA semifinals. They defeated the Herd 101-51 in Hattiesburg on Jan. 26.

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