Tulane (9-12, 3-7 C-USA) held a 74-67 lead with 20.7 seconds remaining after two Davis free throws and one from Ben Benfield. However, Southern Miss (10-12, 1-8) battled back.
Rashaad Carruth nailed a contested three-pointer with 15.1 seconds to go and then the Golden Eagle press forced a turnover in the backcourt. Dead-eye free-throw shooter Michael Ford was fouled, but the Golden Eagle guard missed both free throws. However, Mildon Ambres snagged the offensive rebound and banked it in from just inside the foul line to make it 74-72 with 2.7 clicks remaining. Ford had come into the game shooting 84.8 percent from the line.
After Ambres' putback, Tulane's Davis was fouled and hit one-of-two free throws to give the Wave a three-point advantage. Coming out of a timeout, Southern Miss found Carruth at midcourt, but the junior transfer traveled just before the final buzzer sounded for the Green Wave victory.
"We had to fight all the way to the end; this is a good win for us," Tulane coach Shawn Finney said. "We knew it would be tough, we really rebounded the ball and we made the toughness plays; that was the key."
Tulane matched its season-high with 11 three-pointers while attempting a school record 33 threes in the game. The Green Wave also hit 11 threes in its last game against USF. The school record for threes is 13.
"I told them that if you're open, shoot them [three-pointers]," Finney said. "I can be satisfied with 33 percent, I would be happier with 36 or 37 percent."
Midway through the second half, Ben Benfield drilled a pair of three-pointers to key an 8-0 Green Wave run, making it 59-48 with 8:05 to go. However, Carruth (game-high 24 points) connected on a deep three-pointer to keep the Golden Eagles in the game.
After a Matt Wheaton three-pointer made it 62-51, Southern Miss went on a 9-2 run to pull within four at 64-60 with 4:12 to go. Another Green Wave three, this one by Chris Moore, gave the Wave breathing space, but five unanswered Golden Eagle points made it 67-65 with 2:45 on the clock.
A spectacular stretch by Donnie Stith keyed the Wave down the stretch. The 6-6 freshman connected on a pair of free throws at the 2:17 mark to make it 69-65, then swatted away a Jason Forte runner with 1:58 to go. With 1:36 to go, Stith slammed home a missed jumper by the Wave for a 71-67 lead; and then he blocked another shot with 59 seconds to go. In the final 2:17 of the game, the freshman tallied four points, two rebounds and two blocks. He finished the game with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks.
"Donnie stepped up big, he rebounded, scored and hit two big free throws," Finney said.
"I was very happy with the way everyone came in and contributed tonight," Finney said. "Everyone was shooting the ball, rebounding and sharing the basketball. That's what you have to do against a zone, you have to share the basketball and sometimes you have to pass up a good shot to get a great shot."
Tulane shot just 43.8 percent (28-of-64) from the field while Southern Miss buried 52.6 percent (30-of-57). The Green Wave had a season-low 10 turnovers while the Golden Eagles had 13. Despite being out-rebounded, 35-33, the Wave had a 24-6 advantage in second-chance points.
The Green Wave led by as many as nine early in the first half, but the Golden Eagles battled back within two at the break, 34-32.
Tulane travels to Tennessee this weekend to play Memphis on Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. The game will be televised throughout Louisiana on Cox Sports TV. The next home game for the Green Wave is Saturday, Feb. 19 against Charlotte at 7 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 504-861-WAVE.