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February 13, 2013

Missed foul shots cost Tulane shot at shocking Southern Miss

With a chance for a season-defining win, Tulane failed at the free throw line.

Four days after rallying from 19 points down to beat Houston on the road, the Green Wave erased a 16-point deficit in the second half at Southern Miss and led 55-53 when Jordan Callahan went to foul line in the double bonus.

Brick, brick.

After Southern Miss scored five in row to go ahead 58-55, Josh Davis had a chance to make the score 58-57 with a pair of free throws at the 3:38 mark.

Brick, brick.

Callahan and Davis entered as 73-percent foul shooters.

Southern Miss (19-6, 8-2 Conference USA) hit almost all of its foul shots down the stretch, pulling away for a 71-60 victory in Hattiesburg, Miss. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Golden Eagles while ending the Wave's two-game winning streak.

"It was a heck of a basketball game," Tulane coach Ed Conroy said in a post-game radio interview. "I'm proud of our guys. We really found our stride in the second half and played some really good basketball for about 15 minutes and ran out of gas a little bit at the end. We missed some free throw opportunities that really could have put us in position to win this game."

Tulane (16-9, 4-6) wasted a career night from reserve guard Ben Cherry, a Citadel transfer who drained all five of his 3-point attempts and finished with 17 points, five more than his previous best.

"He was hunting it, and that's what we needed him to do," Conroy said. "I thought he passed some shots up early."

Tulane's hot streak was remarkably similar to its huge run against Houston. Callahan, Cherry and Ricky Tarrant hit successive 3-pointers in barely more than a minute as the Wave dug itself out of a 44-28 hole rapidly. Tarrant then hit two free throws and Cherry scored his only basket from inside the arc to tie the score at 44.

The Wave went ahead three times after that --on another Cherry trey that made the score 47-46, a Callahan banker for a 49-48 lead and a Davis floating hook for a 55-53 advantage.

The flubbed foul shots followed, and Tulane could not respond again.

Davis scored a team-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the year. Tarrant struggled with his shot again, hitting his first field goal almost midway through the second half and finishing 2 of 10 from the floor.

Dwayne Davis paced Southern Miss with 21 points. Jerrold Brooks added 14.

The Golden Eagles shot 54 percent for the game and forced 18 turnovers. Tulane shot 54 percent in the second half but trailed 31-21 at the break after misfiring repeatedly.

The Wave plays SMU on Saturday at Devlin Fieldhouse, starting a finishing stretch of six consecutive games against teams at .500 or below in Conference USA.

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