Late baskets lead USM to win
By By Stan Caldwell / EMG sports writer
Jan. 5, 2003
HATTIESBURG It has been said that a child shall lead them, and in the case of the University of Southern Mississippi Saturday afternoon, it was a case of being led by a pair of children.
Freshman Jason Forte and sophomore James Pattman, two reserves from the deepest part of James Green's bench, made critical baskets in the final seconds to lead the Golden Eagles to a thrilling 56-54 victory over Murray State before 2,702 at Green Coliseum.
Both teams completed their non-conference schedule at 7-4. USM opens Conference USA play on Tuesday at home against TCU.
Forte and Pattman each only made one field goal for the game, but they made them count. Forte hit a 3-point field goal with 47 seconds to play only USM's second trey in 19 attempts to play to give USM a 53-50 lead. Then Pattman snapped a 54-54 tie with a running 10-foot jump shot in the lane that rolled into the basket with .9 seconds to play for the winning points.
The victory was a huge confidence booster for USM after the debacle in their most recent game, at Auburn last Monday. Auburn thrashed the Golden Eagles 92-46. Following the six-hour drive home early Tuesday morning, the Eagles went through a hard two-hour practice when they returned.
The Racers came in with a team that returned four starters from a team that earned an NCAA Tournament bid last spring after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament title.
But the Golden Eagles held MSU to 20 points under its season scoring average, mostly by keeping leading scorer Chris Shumate in check. Shumate came into the game averaging 13.5 points per game, but scored just four points on 2 of 13 shooting from the field.
USM played a strong first half to forge a 13-point lead at one point. Mario Myles made a lay-up, then a free throw to give the Eagles a 23-10 lead with 5:35 to play in the first half.
A big factor in USM's first half surge was redshirt freshman Jasper Johnson, who led the Eagles with 18 points. Johnson nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 11:13 to play in the first half, and that opened up the inside for the 6-7 forward.
Murray State cut the lead to 27-19 on Antonio Henderson's 3-pointer with 12 seconds to play in the half, and the Racers made a determined bid in the second half.
Senior point guard Kevin Paschel scored a career-high 22 points, 18 in the second half, mostly on drives to the basket against the Eagle guards. Paschal made a pair of lay-ups, then Singleton made a pair of inside shots to turn a 32-22 USM lead into a 34-34 tie with 12:41 to play in the game.
Johnson scored eight points in a 10-0 run on a lay-up and six free throws to pull the Eagles to a 44-34 lead, but the Racers fought back with a 14-4 run capped by Paschel's baseline lay-up to tie the game 48-48 with 2:07 to go.
USM went back ahead on Johnson's lay-up, but Cuthbert Victor slammed home an alley-oop pass to retie the game and set up Forte's big shot.
Rick Jones made a pair of free throws for MSU, then Myles made one of two free throws for a 56-54 USM lead. Back came Paschel with another drive through the lane for a lay-up to tie the game one last time with 13 seconds to play, setting the stage for Pattman's heroics.