HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Four Golden Eagles played 40-plus minutes, and after Charlotte overcame a nine-point deficit in the final 2:07 of regulation, Southern Miss gutted it out in overtime to allow just two points and win 74-68 on Saturday afternoon.
Charlotte's press allowed for a pair of turnovers that turned into five points, the last a jumper in the paint with 47 seconds left to get within 62-59. Gabe Watson added two free-throws and the 49ers responded with a jumper. After a steal led to two more free-throws for a 64-63 deficit, Watson sank two more foul shots with 21 seconds left. Artur Konontsuk blocked a corner three that was rebounded out-of-bounds, and the 49ers sank another one from the same spot with three ticks left.
There was no score in overtime until Leonard Harper-Baker went underneath with 2:09 left. Charlotte's two free-throws on the ensuing possession was all it would get from there on out. Stevenson's jumper upped the lead to 71-68 with 37 seconds left, and the 49ers turned it over on the next two possessions to close it out.
"I felt like we had to win the game twice," head coach Jay Ladner said. "We have some work to do protecting the lead and getting the basketball in against the press. That one's on me. It's one of the first times this year we've won a game that tight. We've practiced it, but there's a huge difference especially with young guys in executing under pressure. We didn't do a good job executing, including leaving a wide-open three to end regulation."
Southern Miss (7-16, 3-7 C-USA) led by as much as 15-7 halfway through the first period, but Charlotte tied it at 29 at the break.
"The great thing is we were able to get that experience and win today," Ladner said. "What we talked about at the end of regulation was that I knew they were deflated. We said 'guys, let's win again. We've outplayed them the entire day. Go win it again, you have five more minutes to do that.' I thought we did a much better job at getting the ball in, making free-throws and getting key stops."
LaDavius Draine's 21 points led the Golden Eagles. It is his fourth, 20-point game this season and seventh of his career. Tyler Stevenson also had 14 points and 10 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season and second in a row. He is the first to accomplish the feat since Harper-Baker against WKU and Marshall from Jan. 24-26, 2019. Watson also recorded 16 points with 6-for-6 foul shooting.
Harper-Baker (career-highs of 16 rebounds and 10 assists) fell two points shy of Southern Miss' first triple-double since Ronald Jackson against Mercer in 1980. Between him and Stevenson, it was the first time Southern Miss had two double-doubles in a game since Harper-Baker and Cortez Edwards in the 101-51 win over Marshall last season.
The Golden Eagles (7-16, 3-7 C-USA) will fly out to Marshall for a Thursday contest. Tip-off is at 6 p.m. CT.
-It marked the third-straight win over Charlotte.
-This was the second game in a row and third of the last four in which only seven Golden Eagles saw the floor. The bench had just 11 minutes.
-It was Southern Miss' third overtime win in a row and fifth of its last six chances dating back to the 2016-17 season. The last battle was a 73-71 win over LA Tech on Feb. 9, 2019.
-Southern Miss won the rebounding battle 42-30, its widest margin since the William Carey game (Nov. 24).
-The Golden Eagles entered the day 82.3 percent from the foul line in league play, the best in C-USA. They went 11-for-13 (84.6 percent) to up that.
-Gabe Watson and LaDavius Draine have both played complete games in three of their last four contests.
-Draine's three triples moved him to 159 for his career, five away from tying Neil Watson (2011-14) for No. 3 on the school's all-time list.