USM men’s basketball starts 6-0 for the 1st time in 16 seasons

CANCUN, Mexico (WDAM) – Tournament Most Valuable Player Felipe Haase scored 21 points and Denijay Harris added 10 as the University of Southern Mississippi wrapped up a 3-0 run through the Cancun Challenge’s Mayan Division with a 70-58 win over Purdue University-Fort Wayne Wednesday afternoon.

The win moved the Golden Eagles to 6-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

USM also defeated Liberty University, 76-72, and Winthrop, 77-52, in Mayan Division play.

The Golden Eagles rallied from an early four-point deficit and took control of the game after a slugfest of a start.

After the Mastodons (3-3) took a brief lead, Haase hit a 3-pointer with 10 minutes 36 minutes left in the first half to give USM the lead for good.

A 9-0 run put the Golden Eagles up 13 points, with Haase contributing another trey.

Purdue-Fort Wayne cut its deficit to single digits late in the first half, but a DeAndre Inckney jumper and Marcelo Perez’ buzzer-beater gave USM a 39-26 Halftime lead.

USM hit 48.5 percent of its shots in the first half. Denijay Harris, who finished with 10 points, had eight in the first 20 minutes.

The Golden Eagles’ lead hovered around a 12 points for much of the second half until the Mastodons got within eight with 14:13 to go.

However, Tyler Morman played a crucial role off the bench and turned in a three-point play to put USM back up 11 points.

Purdue-Fort Wayne answered again to get within seven with 9:48 left, but that’s as close as it got.

Another run pushed USM’s lead to 20 when Haase went to work at the Charity stripe.

The Celebration was on for USM Coach Jay Ladner’s Squad when Pinckney grabbed the final rebound with 24 seconds left in the game.

While Haase was named MVP, Austin Crowley earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.

Crowley had nine points with three steals, while Pinckney finished with eight points.

Donovan Ivory added six points off the bench.

USM, which turned 18 turnovers into 17 points, shot 51.9 percent from the floor for the game.

The Golden Eagles will host Mobile University at 2 pm Sunday at Reed Green Coliseum.

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