Golden Eagles drop opening bonus play game to Middle Tennessee

By ANDREW ABADIE,

 Southern Miss opened bonus play with a 61-53 loss to Middle Tennessee State. 

 

The Golden Eagles, who are fighting for a spot to get into the conference tournament, gave the Blue Raiders extra offensive opportunities after failing to come away with offensive rebounds. 

 

Southern Miss' main source of life came after trailing 19-11. The Golden Eagles found life with a 13-0 run to take a 24-19 lead. 

 

"They came out in the beginning in man-to-man defense," Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner said. "We were prepared as far as that was concerned. We did a good job executing and moving the basketball."

 

However, Southern Miss never maintained the momentum as Middle Tennessee responded with a 14-1 run to hold a 33-25 lead at the half. 

 

"I thought there was a particular play where they missed a missed shot, and we had them kind of on the back of their heels," Ladner said. We didn't even attempt to block out and Middle Tennessee gets an easy rebound and a simple put back. Then to their credit and at that point switched to a 1-3-1 defense. We were very casual with the basketball and weren't very aggressive in terms of attacking it. I thought that's what flipped the game around." 

 

The Blue Raiders were able to take 19 more shot attempts than the Golden Eagles. In the game, Middle Tennessee came away with 15 offensive rebounds and came up with 10 steals. At the same time, the Golden Eagles coughed up 18 turnovers. 

 

"Give Middle Tennessee State credit they were more determined than we were," Ladner said. We talked about their offensive rebounding and how important that was, and it hurt us today.

 

"The difference of that is that we gave them 15 extra possessions. It would be like starting the game and throwing it back out to the half court and have them stay on offense the first 15 times and lose by eight."

 

Southern Miss outshot Middle Tennessee 42 percent to 36 percent but allowed the Blue Raiders to score 23 points off turnovers. 

 

"You hold a team to 36 percent and you shoot 42 percent you really should win the basketball game but when we give up that many possessions you don't deserve to win the game and today we didn't deserve to win the game," Ladner said.

 

Ladner explained that the team's preparation played a major role in the loss. 

 

"I was very disappointed in our preparation," Ladner said. "I don't think we fought too hard in practice this week. I take responsibility for that. It cost us today in a critical game, and I apologize to our fans for that." 

 

For Middle Tennessee, the game snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Raiders. 

 

"When you hold a team to 36 percent opponent field goal percentage, you should win the game," Ladner added.

 

Tyler Stevenson scored a team-high of 16 points while Leonard Harper-Baker posted a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds. 

 

"We just didn't handle the time off very well," Ladner said. "We looked very sluggish. It hurts us because there are four teams and only two get it in and now, we have our backs to the wall. It's tough to win on the road. These next three are that tough and this just makes it that much tougher." 

 

Southern Miss will travel to UTEP on March 1 with tipoff set for 3 p.m.

Southern Miss opened bonus play with a 61-53 loss to Middle Tennessee State.

The Golden Eagles, who are fighting for a spot to get into the conference tournament, gave the Blue Raiders extra offensive opportunities after failing to come away with offensive rebounds.

Southern Miss' main source of life came after trailing 19-11. The Golden Eagles found life with a 13-0 run to take a 24-19 lead.

"They came out in the beginning in man-to-man defense," Southern Miss coach Jay Ladner said. "We were prepared as far as that was concerned. We did a good job executing and moving the basketball."

However, Southern Miss never maintained the momentum as Middle Tennessee responded with a 14-1 run to hold a 33-25 lead at the half.

"I thought there was a particular play where they missed a missed shot, and we had them kind of on the back of their heels," Ladner said. We didn't even attempt to block out and Middle Tennessee gets an easy rebound and a simple put back. Then to their credit and at that point switched to a 1-3-1 defense. We were very casual with the basketball and weren't very aggressive in terms of attacking it. I thought that's what flipped the game around."

The Blue Raiders were able to take 19 more shot attempts than the Golden Eagles. In the game, Middle Tennessee came away with 15 offensive rebounds and came up with 10 steals. At the same time, the Golden Eagles coughed up 18 turnovers.

"Give Middle Tennessee State credit they were more determined than we were," Ladner said. We talked about their offensive rebounding and how important that was, and it hurt us today.

"The difference of that is that we gave them 15 extra possessions. It would be like starting the game and throwing it back out to the half court and have them stay on offense the first 15 times and lose by eight."

Southern Miss outshot Middle Tennessee 42 percent to 36 percent but allowed the Blue Raiders to score 23 points off turnovers.

"You hold a team to 36 percent and you shoot 42 percent you really should win the basketball game but when we give up that many possessions you don't deserve to win the game and today we didn't deserve to win the game," Ladner said.

Ladner explained that the team's preparation played a major role in the loss.

"I was very disappointed in our preparation," Ladner said. "I don't think we fought too hard in practice this week. I take responsibility for that. It cost us today in a critical game, and I apologize to our fans for that."

For Middle Tennessee, the game snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Raiders.

"When you hold a team to 36 percent opponent field goal percentage, you should win the game," Ladner added.

Tyler Stevenson scored a team-high of 16 points while Leonard Harper-Baker posted a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds.

"We just didn't handle the time off very well," Ladner said. "We looked very sluggish. It hurts us because there are four teams and only two get it in and now, we have our backs to the wall. It's tough to win on the road. These next three are that tough and this just makes it that much tougher."

Southern Miss will travel to UTEP on March 1 with tipoff set for 3 p.m.

 

Photo via Makayla Puckett.