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Southern Miss men’s and women’s basketball teams win regular season conference titles

Southern Miss basketball
Photo by Southern Miss Athletics

The Southern Miss men’s and women’s basketball teams have earned the title of Sun Belt Conference regular season champions in their first year as members of the conference.

For the third time in Southern Miss’ Division I era, the Golden Eagles men’s team (25-6, 14-4 Sun Belt) has won a regular season conference championship. With a 79-69 win at Texas State on Friday night, Southern Miss was crowned Sun Belt regular season champions.

USM posted just seven wins in the 2021-2022 season, leaving head coach Jay Ladner with a sizable obstacle to hurdle. The Southern Miss alum turned head coach went to the transfer portal to add crucial pieces such as Austin Crowley from Ole Miss, as well as Felipe Haase and Neftali Alvarez from Mercer to revamp the team’s roster. The trio of added players has contributed an average of nearly 40 points and 12 rebounds per game this season.

Next up for the men’s team is an appearance in the 2023 Hercules Tires Sun Belt Men’s Basketball Championship on Saturday, March 4 at 11:30 a.m with an opportunity to solidify a bid into the NCAA Tournament. Southern Miss will play the winner of South Alabama and Appalachian State. All games will be played at the Pensacola Bay Center in Pensacola, Fla.

As for the USM women’s team, the Lady Eagles ended their season 20-9 and 13-5 in Sun Belt play after a 69-64 overtime victory at Louisiana, earning a three-way tie for the regular season conference title with James Madison and Texas State.

Head coach Joye Lee-McNelis, a former USM basketball great, led the team to a five-game winning streak to close out the season and catapult the Golden Eagles back into the upper echelon of the conference.

Contributions from Gillom Trophy finalist Dominique Davis have been the catalyst in the team’s success this season, especially down the road. The junior leads the team in points per game (17.8), assists (94), and steals (58).

The Lady Eagles will make their Sun Belt Conference Tournament debut in Pensacola on March 3 at 5 p.m. against the winner of the No. 6 seed vs. the winner of the No. 11 vs. No. 14 game. While not currently projected to make the NCAA Tournament, a Sun Belt Tournament title will give USM an automatic bid into the field of 64.

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