Cancun, Mexico –
Down by as many as 10 points at one time, Southern Miss pulled out a tough victory against the Saint Louis Billikens (5-6) on Thursday afternoon to go 2-0 in Mexico. The Golden Eagles (9-1) advance to the finals of the Cancun Governor’s Cup at the Poliforum Benito Juarez on Friday evening against the Colorado State Rams (7-3) from the Mountain West Conference.
The Eagles trailed after leading 6-4 at the 16:21 mark for the rest of the 1st half to the Billikens. SLU used the pick-and-roll to perfection to take a 10 point lead at the 7:22 minute mark for a 27-17 advantage. USM could not defend it and that opened up the 3-point shot which Saint Louis went 10 of 20 at an alarming 50 percent for the game. The Black and Gold battled back behind the play of junior PG Angelo Johnson who had a game high 21 points to only trail 35-33 going into the locker room at the half.
Southern Miss continued to hang in the 2nd half with the lights-out shooting of the Billikens who had a FG percentage of 48 percent for the game. The Eagles went down by 9 points at the 14:18 mark with a score of 49-40. On the shoulders of Johnson and senior F Sai’ Quon Stone, USM climbed back into the game to tie it up at 51-51 at the 10:27 minute mark. After many lead changes between the two squads, the Golden Eagles pulled ahead for good with a 74-67 win against a good team from the Atlantic 10 Conference guided by legendary coach Rick Majerus.
For USM, Stone scored 15 points off of the bench and senior guard R. L. Horton put up 11 points on the afternoon. Conference USA leading scorer senior F Gary Flowers was held to 10 points in a sub-par performance in the contest. For the Billikens, Mike McCall went for 19 points, while Cody Ellis chipped in 15 points and Brian Conklin added 13 points. Saint Louis was forced to play without suspended star players Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed who are both out for the season.
Southern Miss will play Colorado State on Friday evening on ESPN2 at 8 P.M. CST for the Cancun Governor’s Cup Trophy.