RUSTON – Visiting Southern Miss hung around until after halftime Thursday night at Louisiana Tech, but then the Bulldogs dropped the hammer, notching a not-that-close 80-57 Conference USA basketball win.
Tech (14-3 overall, 5-0 in C-USA) led 31-24 at the half, then rang up 13 unanswered points early afterward on the way to opening a 34-point bulge over the Golden Eagles (5-10, 1-2). The Bulldogs dished a season-best 21 assists and sank 11 shots behind the arc.
Winning its 18th straight at the Thomas Assembly Center, Tech sank 56 percent of its second-half shots.
The Bulldogs nabbed their sixth straight win and 10th in the last 11 games. Keaston Willis pumped in 21 points while David Green contributed 17 off the bench. Kenneth Lofton Jr. collected 10 rebounds but only took six shots and scored just seven points.
The teams meet again Sunday at 2 in Hattiesburg.
LSU 87, MISSOURI 85 (OT): Unranked Missouri handed No. 1 South Carolina its first and only loss Dec. 30 in overtime at home, and nearly stunned the Tigers in OT at the Maravich Assembly Center.
Khayla Porter’s layup with 5.7 seconds remaining was the difference for No. 12 LSU (16-2, 4-1) to edge Mizzou (13-4, 2-2). Kim Mulkey’s team held an 11-point halftime lead, but the visitors rallied with eight 3-pointers in the second half and took a slim lead. The teams both missed shots in the final 16 seconds of regulation and headed to overtime tied at 79.
LSU, which hosts Vanderbilt Saturday at noon, lost interior standout Autumn Newby to a third-quarter knee injury after she snagged 12 first-half rebounds.
USM 65, LOUSIANA TECH 60: Keiunna Walker scored a game-high 19, getting double digits for the 15th straight contest, while Anna Larr Roberson had her sixth double-double this season with 15 points/10 rebounds, but Southern Miss ended the game on a 14-2 run over the final 6:32 at Reed-Green Coliseum
The Lady Techsters dipped to 0-4 in CUSA, their worst league start since 2013-14, and are 8-7 overall.
The Golden Eagles (10-5, 2-2) beat Tech for the sixth straight time in Hattiesburg and swept the season series on the heels of a 65-59 victory last Sunday in their visit to Ruston.
Tech is home Monday for a 1 p.m. CUSA contest against UTSA, delayed earlier this month due to UTSA’s COVID protocols. It will be the Techsters’ first home conference outing.
LSUS 62, JARVIS CHRISTIAN 48: The Pilots stayed perfect in Red River Athletic Conference play. LSUS (8-7, 3-0) won’t play again for a week, until a home game against Louisiana Christian next Thursday at The Dock.
SOUTH ALABAMA 69, ULM 54: The visiting Jaguars (7-7, 1-0) were sharp after a 23-day stretch without playing, scoring the first nine points and leading by as much as 25 at Fant-Ewing Coliseum. Losing its eighth consecutive contest, ULM (4-14, 0-4) was outshot 45-26 percent overall and 41-9 percent behind the arc, despite 26 points by Kyren Whittington.
LSUS 89, JARVIS CHRISTIAN 84: The Pilots prevailed in a shootout at Hawkins, Texas, to improve to 9-5 overall, 2-0 in RRAC games. LSUS is home next Thursday against Louisiana Christian.
TEXAS STATE 80, ULM 56: The Bobcats shot well (53 percent overall, 68 percent on 3-pointers) and the visiting Warhawks did not (32 percent overall, 24 percent from distance) and Texas State never trailed in the blowout.
ULM (8-9, 1-4) got 15-point outings from Russell Harrison and Nika Metskhavarishvili but the rest of the squad sank only 7 of 31 shots. Texas State (10-4, 1-1) had four double-digit scorers led by Caleb Asberry’s 19.
Photo: SADIE PATTON/La. Tech