Southern Mississippi 75, Old Dominion 60

The SportsXchange

NORFOLK, Va. -- Southern Miss guard Jerrold Brooks hit two 3-pointers and guard Neil Watson added one during a 15-2 run as the Golden Eagles pulled away from Old Dominion 75-60 on Thursday night at the Constant Center.

The Monarchs, who trailed by seven points early in the second half, forged ahead 52-51 on a layup by guard Keenan Palmore layup with 9:20 left. But Watson answered with a 3 to give the Golden Eagles the lead for good.

Two free throws by forward Michael Craig and a hook shot from forward Jeremiah Eason extended the Southern Miss advantage before Brooks sandwiched his 3-pointers around a putback by forward Daveon Boardingham to put the Golden Eagles in command at 66-54.

Watson scored 28 points and hit six of his team's 12 3-pointers to lead Southern Miss (17-3, 4-1 Conference USA), which won its third straight. The Golden Eagles shot 57.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Watson was also 10 of 10 from the free throw line, extending his streak of consecutive makes to 39. Brooks added 18 points.

Guard Aaron Bacote scored 19 points to lead Old Dominion, but just five of those came after the opening 10 minutes. Forward Richard Ross added 11 points and nine rebounds for the Monarchs (9-10, 3-1), who lost for the first time in five games and fell out of sole possession of first place in Conference USA.

Old Dominion got off to a roaring start thanks to Bacote. He drained his first four 3-pointers and then hit two of three free throws after being fouled while launching another to stake the Monarchs to a 20-12 lead before the 10-minute mark.

But Bacote quickly returned the favor by fouling Watson -- Bacote's second foul -- while shooting a 3-pointer. With Bacote sitting out, Watson made all three free throws to start a 15-0 Southern Miss run in the next five minutes.

A fall-away 3-pointer by guard Jordan Baker got the Monarchs even at 32 with just over a minute left, but Craig buried a 3-pointer of his own at the shot-clock buzzer with three seconds left to send Southern Miss into the break leading 35-32.

Watson scored 14 first-half points to lead the Golden Eagles. Bacote's 14 points paced Old Dominion, which hung around despite committing 10 turnovers.

NOTES: Old Dominion had a four-game winning streak despite playing virtually all of its last two games without leading scorer Aaron Bacote, the sophomore guard who suffered a sprained ankle early in the Monarchs' 52-36 victory at FIU on Jan. 16. ... Watson went 5-for-5 from the free throw line and has now made 34 straight during a 10-game stretch. His last miss came Dec. 18 at Western Kentucky. ... Old Dominion won all six of the teams' previous meetings, but the last head-to-head matchup was during the 1992-93 season.
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