HATTIESBURG, Miss. — The USF basketball team has had a rough time this season when venturing away from its home courts.
Thursday night proved no different, only more difficult to digest.
Augustus Gilchrist's contested 10-foot jumper from the side of the lane floated into a sea of arms as the buzzer sounded, leaving the Bulls on the short end of a 53-51 decision against Southern Mississippi before 3,037 at Green Coliseum.
"It's just tough to come to somebody else's house and win, that's all there is to it," said Gilchrist, a senior forward who became the 18th player in USF history to reach the 1,000-point mark in a career. "But we played hard, we came together and we were right there. We're going to win one of these."
The Bulls (7-6) struggled to find any consistent shooting. USF made just 1 of 15 3-pointers and went 10-of-16 from the free-throw line.
"We just have to go and get better from this. It certainly was a game that was a winnable game for us," USF coach Stan Heath said.
The Bulls remained winless on the road and lost for the 12th time in 14 visits to their former conference rival.
Southern Miss (10-2) won its sixth consecutive game, a run that includes victories over teams from the SEC (Ole Miss), Pac-12 (Arizona State) and Big East (USF).
"We survived it," Golden Eagles coach Larry Eustachy said. "It wasn't pretty, but we survived it."
Southern Miss had led by as many as 11 in the first half, and after coughing up the lead early in the second, it found itself sitting with an eight-point cushion with less than two minutes to play.
But USF ripped off a 6-0 spurt with Gilchrist sandwiching two free throws around the Bulls' lone 3-pointer of the game, a shot from the deep corner by Jawanza Poland, to get within 52-51 with 6.7 seconds to play.
Southern Miss guard Rashard McGill hit the second of two free throws for a two-point lead. But with 5.4 seconds to play, USF had more than enough time for one last shot for a win or tie.
On the final play, the Bulls had planned to inbound the ball to Anthony Collins, but Toarlyn Fitzpatrick was pressured and passed to Hugh Robertson, who got it to Gilchrist for the final shot.
Gilchrist got the ball two steps inside the 3-point arc on the right side of the basket and started a move toward the lane against point guard Angelo Johnson, who was giving up 9 inches to the USF big man.
Gilchrist pulled up with about two seconds left, leaned over Johnson and let it fly, but it found nothing but air.
"It just seemed like when we needed to make a big play, we couldn't do it," Heath said. "We just didn't get a play out of it."
Forward Ron Anderson led USF with 12 points, while Gilchrist added 11 points and seven rebounds, and guard Hugh Robertson had 10 points and five rebounds.
Two Golden Eagles scored double doubles. Guard Darnell Dodson scored 12 with 12 rebounds, and forward Maurice Bolden added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Neither team shot the ball well, USF making just 38.5 percent of its shots and Southern Miss 34.6 percent.
"We just couldn't buy a basket, and we shot too many from out there," Heath said. "Our advantage was on the inside, and we didn't play to it."