Southern Miss edges Florida Atlantic

Published 8:21 pm Saturday, February 2, 2019

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Cortez Edwards had a memorable return to his native Florida.
The senior guard had 22 points, six steals and five assists as Southern Miss held off Florida Atlantic 74-72 on Saturday.

Tyree Griffin also scored 21 points, and Leonard Harper Baker added 10 points and eight rebounds as the Golden Eagles (14-9, 6-5 Conference USA) won their second game on a road trip to South Florida.

Southern Miss shot 58 percent from the field — 70 percent on 2-point tries — in winning their third straight conference game. The Golden Eagles have won six of their last eight overall, and their next three games are at home before C-USA bonus play begins.

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“I think we made this game a lot tougher than it should have been, but you have to give FAU credit for that,” Southern Miss coach Doc Sadler said. “We had a good first half, which is what you need to do, then we got a 14-point lead and just let it go. We took three really tough shots that we didn’t need, and they were scoring at will. FAU is too good to give up open shots. Our guys just continued to compete.”

Florida Atlantic’s Aleksandar Zecevic created the last of the game’s eight ties, 69-all with 2:03 to go. The Owls did not score again until Anthony Adger made a layup and free throw to trail 73-72 with four seconds remaining.

The Owls fouled LaDavius Draine with three seconds to go. He missed the first and made the second for the final margin.

Adger led Florida Atlantic (13-10, 4-6) with 19 points, former Madison Central standout Xavian Stapleton added 18 points and Michael Forrest had 11.

Florida Atlantic made 14 of 36 3-pointers and Southern Miss went 7-for-19.

In a game with few fouls (23 total), Southern Miss’s only two missed free throws came in the final 29 seconds. The Golden Eagles were 7-of-9 from the line and FAU was 4-of-5.

“We made our free throws,” Sadler said. “We missed two late, but for the most part we were 7-for-9 and they were 4-for-5. They get about 18 attempts per game at the line. That’s the difference in the ballgame. Any time you go on the road, it’s gonna be tough. As I told the team, winners win at home, but champions win on the road. We’re going to have five of our next seven at home, and we have to defend it.”