Hattiesburg, Miss. -- A crowd of 7,097 got their money's worth late Saturday night, as four late free throws by Southern Miss (1-0) guard Jerrold Brooks lifted the Golden Eagles over Western Kentucky (0-1) 67-64 in overtime.
WKU broke the 58-58 tie with the first bucket of overtime via a 3-pointer from guard Kevin Kaspar.
Four free throws from USM guard Deon Edwin helped the Golden Eagles take back the lead at 63-61 with 1:25 left in the game.
After turnovers by both teams, WKU guard Brandon Harris went to the free throw line with 16 seconds left and the opportunity to tie the game back up at 63-63.
But Harris missed both free throws, and WKU consequently fouled USM forward Daveon Boardingham at halfcourt.
Boardingham also missed both of his free throws, but the Toppers couldn't corral the rebound after his second miss, forcing WKU to foul again on USM's putback attempt.
This time around, Brooks would make both free throws to go-ahead 65-61 on WKU with only 7 seconds to play.
Guard Jamal Crook quickly drove down court and was fouled sinking a layup, hitting the following free throw to close the gap to 65-64 with 3 seconds left.
But that was as close as the Toppers would get, as Brooks sank another two free throws, and WKU forward O'Karo Akamune missed a game-tying 3-pointer as time expired in overtime.
"We had every opportunity," said WKU head coach Ray Harper on the postgame radio show. "We didn't make free throws, didn't make open looks.
"Sometimes you gota knock em' down, and tonight we didn't."
Close to winning in regulation
The Hilltoppers trailed 55-46 with 4:57 left in regulation, before a 10-0 run captured their first lead of the game at 56-55 with 3:00 to go.
USM regained the lead at 58-56 after two made foul shots by forward Dwayne Davis and one from Edwin.
After starting the game 2-for-4 from free throws, George Fant sank two straight to tie the game at 58-58 with 1:22 to play.
Both teams missed opportunities to score as the end of regulation neared, before Harper called a WKU timeout with 30.8 left on the clock and possession.
Crook drove all the way to the basket from almost halfcourt, making a layup with under 10 seconds remaining, but was whistled for a charge.
USM had one last chance to win in regulation, but their game-winner was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.
Technical foul before tipoff
Southern Miss jumped out to a 10-0 lead on WKU from the tip, led by 8 points from Davis.
Two of the Golden Eagles' 10 points stemmed from free throws on a WKU pre-game technical for dunking in warmups.
Harper called a timeout at the 17:07 mark to stop the run, but the Toppers still wouldn't score until 13:51 was left in the half, a 2-point jumpshot by Fant.
The teams traded buckets until the 5:36 mark in the 1st half, when WKU started a 6-0 run on scores by Crook, Kaspar, and forward Kene Anyigbo.
WKU trailed USM at halftime 30-22.
Crook, Kaspar shine
Crook led the Toppers in scoring with 17 points on 7-for-14 shooting, adding 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals.
Kaspar also had a solid night for WKU, scoring 13 points off the bench and shooting 4-for-9 from 3-point range.
As a team, the Hilltoppers shot 21-for-64 overall (32.8 percent), and 6-for-26 (23.1 percent) from 3-point range.
WKU also finished just 16-for-30 from free throw range (53.3 percent).
The Toppers finished with 9 assists to 25 turnovers, but managed to out-rebound Southern Miss 42-40, also forcing 26 USM turnovers.
Kaspar's first 3-point basket extended WKU's streak of 772 consecutive games with a 3-pointer to 773, the 5th longest current stretch in the country.
WKU will have a quick turnaround for its next game, hosting Austin Peay in Diddle Arena on Tues, Nov. 13.
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