HATTIESBURG, Miss. (KLFY) – Felipe Haase scored all 17 of his points in the second half while DeAndre Pinckney scored 12 of his team-high 22 after intermission as Southern Miss earned a hard-fought 82-71 victory over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in a battle between the Sun Belt Conference co-leaders on Thursday at Reed Green Coliseum.
Neftali Alvarez came off the bench to score 17 points for Southern Miss (22-4, 11-2 Sun Belt), which was 16-for-26 (61.5 percent) from the floor in the second half and 27 of 51 (53 percent) for the game. Austin Crowley added 13 points as the Golden Eagles made 7 of 16 attempts from behind the 3-point line and was 21-for-26 from the free throw line.
Louisiana (20-5, 10-3 Sun Belt) suffered its first loss in the 2023 calendar year as its 10-game win streak – the third-longest nationally entering the game – was snapped. The Ragin’ Cajuns led by as many as 10 points in the first half and 38-33 at halftime before going 10-for-35 in the second half and 0-for-10 from behind the 3-point line.
Haase finished 6-for-11 from the floor as helped Southern Miss outscore the Ragin’ Cajuns, 49-33, in the second half. Pinckney opened an 8-0 run for the Golden Eagles as his 3-pointer with 13:34 remaining gave USM the lead for good at 50-49.
Louisiana finished a season-low 24-for-65 (36.9 percent) from the floor and 2-for-15 from behind the 3-point line. Themus Fulks’ bucket with 16:51 remaining gave Louisiana a 46-42 lead, but the Ragin’ Cajuns would miss 17 of their next 19 attempts in the next 11-plus minutes while the Golden Eagles would go 10-for-18 from the floor in the same span.
Jordan Brown led all players with 25 points on 9 of 17 shooting with Fulks scoring a career-high 19. Kentrell Garnett added eight points, going 2-for-4 from behind the 3-point line, for Louisiana with Jalen Dalcourt scoring six points off the bench.
Louisiana used a 12-2 run in the first half to take a 36-26 lead as Garnett opened the scoring with his second 3-pointer of the night before Fulks made 3 of 4 free throws. Brown added a pair of buckets for the Ragin’ Cajuns before Fulks’ bucket gave Louisiana its largest lead of the game with 4:07 left in the first half.
Louisiana will close out its two-game road trip on Saturday when it travels to Troy, Ala., to face Troy in a 4 p.m. contest at Trojan Arena.