By Clay Bailey/The Associated Press
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Chris Crawford and Shaq Goodwin scored 19 points each and No. 21 Memphis claimed its second straight Conference USA regular season title by beating Southern Mississippi 89-73 on Saturday afternoon.
Five Tigers finished in double figures as Memphis (24-3, 13-0 Conference USA) won its 18th straight. D.J. Stephens scored 16 points, and, like Goodwin, was 6 of 7 from the field, while Joe Jackson had 15 points. Adonis Thomas scored 12 for Memphis, which shot 50 percent for the game, including 46 percent from outside the arc.
Dwayne Davis, who carried Southern Mississippi (21-7, 10-3) in the first half, finished with 28 points, while Jerrold Brooks added 16 points, including 11 after halftime.
Jonathan Mills scored 11 for Southern Mississippi, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.
Memphis, which led by 16 at the break, extended the lead to 23 as the Tigers continued to connect from long range. Memphis converted four 3-pointers in the early stages of the second half.
But Davis continued to score, and started getting help from Mills, through the middle stages of the second half. The Golden Eagles made it 72-60 when Norville Carey scored inside near the 8-minute mark.
Memphis responded with next six points, and eventually built the lead back to 20 on Jackson’s 5-foot baseline jumper with 4:09 left.
That was enough for Memphis to hold a double-digit advantage the rest of the way, earning the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Southern Mississippi tried to show it was not going to be intimidated on the Tigers home floor, where the Golden Eagles haven’t won since 2000. They were barking, pushing and trying to stake their claim to the momentum.
Officials tried to make sure they gained control early, issuing double technicals at one point, handing out warnings and cautioning players about trash talking. The approach worked through much of the first half. The Golden Eagles were within 28-27 with 4:35 to go in the half after Davis hit a 10-footer in the lane.
It was their last field goal of the half, and Memphis closed the half on an 18-3 run to carry a 46-30 lead into the break.