HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Tulane needed last second magic once again on Saturday afternoon. However, this time, Taylor Rochestie's three-point effort was off the mark and the Green Wave fell to Southern Miss, 61-60, in Conference USA men's basketball action at Reed Green Coliseum.
Rochestie hit two crucial three-pointers on Wednesday against UAB, including the game-winner at the buzzer in overtime. However, on Saturday with the Green Wave trailing 61-59, the freshman's game-tying effort in the final seconds was off the mark. The miss was put back successfully by David Gomez, but the Wave ran out of time.
"Taylor got another good look," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "He does a great job of getting free and creating off the dribble; the shot just didn't fall tonight."
Trailing 56-52, Tulane (7-10, 1-5 C-USA) scored inside on a Quincy Davis layup to pull within two with 3:19 to go. However, Southern Miss (10-8, 1-5 C-USA) worked the shot clock down and then Rashaard Carruth nailed a deep three-pointer from straightaway to make it 59-54 with 2:46 remaining. David Gomez scored inside for the Green Wave, but Dwayne Brown answered with a layup for the Golden Eagles and it was 61-56.
Two Ben Benfield free throws made it 61-58 with 1:36 to go and a miss from Southern Miss gave Tulane the chance to tie it up, but a Benfield three from the corner was off the mark with 50 clicks on the clock. The Eagles turned the ball over after working the shot clock down to give Tulane nine seconds to try again. Rochestie took the ball the length of the court and found some daylight for a three, but it caught rim and careened to Gomez, who flipped it home, but just 0.9 seconds remained and Southern Miss clinched the victory on the in-bounds play.
"Carruth's three was a big dagger; that was the play of the game," Finney said. "They had a few big shots which kind of put us back on our heels. I told the guys we need to be the aggressor, but we didn't make the shots when we needed to."
Tulane played most of the game without point guard Marcus Kinzer, who had injured his ankle in the UAB victory. The senior played just nine minutes and did not score. The Green Wave was led by Davis' 18 points and nine rebounds, while David Gomez scored 13 and Rochestie had 12.
The Green Wave held a slim advantage for the first 9:23 of the second half, but Southern Miss knotted the game at 43 with 10:37 to go on a tip-in by Dante Stiggers. The Golden Eagles went up by one before Tulane went back on top with three free throws.
A three-pointer from Chris Moore at the top of the key with 7:26 to go made it 50-49 in favor of the Wave, but Michael Ford hit two free throws and Carruth scored on a fast-break reverse layup to make it 53-50 with 5:23 to go.
For the game, Tulane shot just 35.1 percent (20-of-57) from the field, but the Wave defense held the Golden Eagles to 33.9 percent (20-of-59) shooting. Southern Miss was 16-of-20 from the line while Tulane hit 16 of its 24 free throws. The Wave also held a 47-35 advantage on the boards.
Statistically, the biggest difference was turnovers. Despite having its second-lowest turnover total of the year with 12, Tulane forced only six; and Southern Miss had a 13-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Next up for the Green Wave is another road game, this one at the University of Houston on Wednesday evening. Tulane returns home next Saturday, hosting Louisville at Fogelman Arena at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.
USM Holds On To Defeat Tulane, 61-60
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