HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) LaShay Page scored 20 points and Darnell Dodson added 17 to push Southern Mississippi past East Carolina 78-76 in the Conference USA opener for both teams Wednesday night.
The Golden Eagles (14-2) never trailed, but had to fight off a late East Carolina rally sparked by Pirates forward Darrius Morrow, who scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the second half.
Southern Miss won the rebounding battle 35-25, including three out of the four rebounds after the 1:28 mark in the second half when East Carolina (9-5) was making its push.
Torye Pelham, then Rashard McGill pulled down rebounds after teammates missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities in the final minute.
Miguel Paul scored 19 for East Carolina, including a final free throw that pulled the Pirates within two with 2.8 seconds left, but Pelham rebounded his second shot and cleared it out as time expired.