Hattiesburg, MS (Sports Network) - Donnie Tyndall was successful in his first outing as the Golden Eagles' head coach as Southern Miss escaped an overtime thriller versus the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Reed Green Coliseum with a 67-64 victory.
Jerrold Brooks and Michael Craig each netted 13 points for Southern Miss (1-0) in its season opener. Dwayne Davis added 11 points and Deon Edwin made four clutch free throws in overtime to seal the victory. Despite the victory, the Golden Eagles turned the ball over 26 times and went just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Jamal Crook paced Western Kentucky (0-1) with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Kevin Kaspar came off the bench to drain four three-pointers on his way to 13 points. George Fant contributed 10 points and seven boards while T.J. Price grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
WKU made only 30.4 percent of its field goal attempts and went 0-of-7 from three-point range in the opening half. The Golden Eagles' stingy defense helped them to a 30-22 lead at the intermission.
The Hilltoppers rallied back after the break by improving to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor and knocking down 5-of-15 attempts from distance. Southern Miss held a nine-point lead with just under five minutes remaining before the visitors charged back. Fant made a pair of free throws with 1:22 remaining to tie the score, 58-58. Neither side managed to score before the buzzer sounded and the game progressed into overtime.
Kaspar gave WKU a lead in overtime by converting a three-pointer to make it 61-58. Edwin and Brooks each made four free throws to push USM back in front. O'Karo Akamune missed a potential game-tying three-point attempt as time expired which gave the victory to the Golden Eagles.
This evenly matched bout was reflected in the rebounding battle, as both sided pulled down 46 rebounds in the contest.