Murfreesboro, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Kerry Hammonds knocked down six shots from beyond the arc en route to a game-high 26 points as the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders coasted to an 81-64 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in a Conference USA matchup at the Murphy Center.
The Blue Raiders (19-7, 9-2 C-USA) also received a strong contribution from Neiko Hunter, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Tweety Knight tallied eight assists and three of the team's six steals to help Middle Tennessee notch its seventh win in a row.
Neil Watson paced USM (21-5, 8-3) with 17 points and four assists, but also committed seven of the team's 17 turnovers. Michael Craig added 11 points, while Jeremiah Eason posted 10 points and a team-high six boards. The loss was the second in a row for the Golden Eagles, who entered the contest tied with Middle Tennessee, Texas-El Paso and Louisiana Tech for first place in the C- USA standings.
The Blue Raiders could not be stopped in the opening period as they connected on 9-of-14 attempts from 3-point range and assisted 13 of their 15 made field goal attempts. USM went into the break trailing, 47-29, despite hitting on 58.8 percent of its shots from the floor in the first half.
The Golden Eagles made 43.3 percent of their field goal attempts in the second stanza. Middle Tennessee never relinquished its lead as it converted 18-of-25 attempts at the charity stripe after the intermission to keep the visitors at bay. USM committed 17 of its 29 personal fouls after halftime.
The Golden Eagles came up short despite outscoring the hosts, 36-14, in the paint. Middle Tennessee netted 23 points off of turnovers.