HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- Sophomore Tyler Stevenson earned career-highs in points (27) and minutes (34), but Southern Miss fell just short in a 72-69 defeat to visiting North Florida on Saturday afternoon.
"I'm disappointed, and so is our coaching staff and players who work really hard," head coach Jay Ladner said. "There's a lot of hurt in that locker room, and especially when you lose to a good team with a chance to win. We aren't looking at this as a rebuilding process. We have an urgency to win now."
UNF (7-5) attempted a Reed Green Coliseum-record of 42 three-point attempts, making 15. The previous opponent mark was 41 by Blue Mountain on Nov. 29, 2007. Southern Miss' most is 40 versus Mississippi State on Dec. 16, 1995.
The Ospreys took the lead for good with back-to-back three-pointers for a 61-57 lead with 4:53 left. The lead remained at seven with 3:15 remaining and six at 1:06, the latter coming off a triple to break the one-possession game. After LaDavius Draine scooped a loose ball and buried a corner trey, the Ospreys made two free-throws, got a stop and added one more.
Gabe Watson connected on a three-pointer from the wing in the final six seconds, but even after the Ospreys missed a foul shot on the other end, there was no time for a full-court try.
Southern Miss (3-8) trailed 16-4 to start, but pulled within 32-29 at the break. The Golden Eagles' largest lead was 41-36 with 15:23 left, but UNF reeled off 11 consecutive points.
"We got off to a slow start, and I have to figure that out since it's our second-straight game doing that," Ladner said. "To our players' credit, they've battled back every single time. I thought we were a defensive possession or two away from winning, but you have to give North Florida credit."
The Golden Eagles will leave early in the morning for its Monday night game at defending national runner-up Texas Tech. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN2.
-Southern Miss attempted a season-high 69 shots.
-The Golden Eagles won the turnover battle for the third-straight game, and had more foul shots than its opponent for the third time.
-It was also the third-straight contest the squad had more points in the second half from the first.
-Tyler Stevenson's 27 points marked the third 20-point game by a Golden Eagle this year, and the most since Boban Jacdonmi's 29 in the opener versus Delta State.
-Stevenson also has five consecutive double-digit scoring games.
-Gabe Watson produced his first-career double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, the latter also marking a personal-best.
-Leonard Harper-Baker (11 rebounds) reached double-figures in that department for the 13th time of his two-year career.
-Jay Malone had a team-high five assists, the fifth time he's had that many or more this year.