HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Ouch.
The University of Southern Mississippi left the door open just a crack Saturday afternoon at Reed Green Coliseum and then could only watch in horror as heartbreak walked through.
University of South Alabama senior forward Kayo Goncalves delivered a namesake shot, a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Jaguars a 76-75 win.
Goncalves’ shot, which was clearly out of his hand in time, hit the back iron, bounded about 5 feet straight up before coming straight down through the twine.
“it’s a tough way to lose,” USM coach Jay Ladner said. “We played well enough to win, but it just didn’t go our way.”
After leading by six points with 2:30 to play, the Golden Eagles found themselves trailing 73-72 with less than a minute to go after sophomore guard K.K. Curry capped a 7-0 USA spurt by converting USM’s 19th turnover into a layup at the other end.
USM junior guard Tae Hardy made two free throws with 26.7 seconds left in the game to put the Golden Eagles back in front and junior forward Tyler Stevenson stood his ground as Curry was called for a charge with less than 10 seconds left.
Freshman guard Jaron Pierre was fouled on the inbounds, and made 1-of-2 free throws with 6.6 seconds to play.
With no timeouts, the Jaguars (5-2) pushed the ball up court. After being cut off from driving the basket, the 6-foot-8 Goncalves took a kickout pass a few steps behind the line at the top left arc, and with Stevenson in his face, let fly.
Clang. Boing. Ripple.
“Just a tough break,” Ladner said. “Give South Alabama credit. They had another game where it came down to that, and they made that one, too, so I guess they’re living right.
“But it just makes me sick inside.”
Especially when the Golden Eagles did so many things right Saturday afternoon.
Led by Pierre, USM rediscovered its shooting touch on its home turf three days after a dismal 38-point outing at Tulane University.
For a second consecutive home game, USM (1-3) made better than half its shots, hitting 50.9 percent from the field.
The Golden Eagles knocked down a season-high 15 3-pointers, with Pierre (six), senior wing LaDavius Draine (five) and sophomore Artur Konontsuk (four) providing the sniping from beyond the arc.
USM out-rebounded the Jaguars 29-22 and handed out 21 assists on 27 made baskets, led by eight assists from Hardy.
But the Golden Eagles turned the ball over 19 times and allowed USA to shoot 68 percent from the floor in the second half.
The Jags (5-2) rallied from a six-point halftime deficit and a seven-point hole in the second half.
Pierre posted the first double-double as a Golden Eagles with career highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds. He also handed out three assists.
Draine finished with 19 points and six assists, while Stevenson had 10 points and seven rebounds. Konontsuk scored 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
Goncalves and sophomore point guard Tyreke Locure each scored 18 points. Gonclaves added eight rebounds, while Locure had six assists. Curry finished with 16 points.
USM will visit Lamar University at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Beaumont, Texas.