by Hunter Dawkins

There were a few different storylines in the last non-conference matchup for the Southern Miss (USM) Golden Eagles in Monday afternoon’s game against the Loyola University-New Orleans Wolfpack.  Fortunately, USM outscored the Wolfpack in the second half by a decent margin to win 74-54.

The Golden Eagles Second Year Head Basketball Coach and former Pass Christian resident Jay Ladner took on his son; Luke Ladner, St. Stanislaus Alum and Wolfpack Guard for the first time.

Despite knocking down a three-point basket in the early first half in front of his father, Luke settled the emotions with composure.

“With all my heart, I wanted to turn around and look at him,” the younger Ladner said. “But then I thought about the next time I’d come to Hattiesburg and seeing his reaction.”

“It’s a very odd experience,” expressed Southern Miss Head Coach Ladner. “We wanted a very challenging opponent after the break, and they provided the best opportunity of it. I don’t like the emotions because it’s a conflict in that you’re trying to beat them, but I’m one of Loyola’s biggest fans.”

With all of the emotions in check, USM took a 35-27 lead at the half and outscored Loyola 39-27 in the second half for their final non-conference victory.

On another note, USM Guard LaDavius Draine reached the 1,000-point milestone in an explosive way, scoring on three-straight possessions in the second half as Southern Miss defeated Loyola New Orleans, 74-54, on Monday afternoon.

Draine’s barrage upped the Golden Eagles’ lead to 71-38 with 9:21 to play, and he ultimately finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting (5-for-8 from deep). Oddly enough, Southern Miss’ last contest against Loyola (Feb. 22, 2011) also saw Gary Flowers become the fourth-fastest Golden Eagle to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
“LaDavius came here when it wasn’t cool to come here (9-22 the season before),” stated Ladner. “He stayed the course. Not many kids would do that, and that’s a credit to him, his family, his high school coach and our fans that he did. He doesn’t say more than 3-4 words, but he’s always smiling and goes about his business.”
Draine’s game-high 21 points give him 11 with 20-plus for his career (first time this season).  He is now the 38th member of the 1,000-point club and the first since Cortez Edwards entered in November 2019 and sits one point shy of Berlin Ladner for No. 37 on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,006 from 1965-68).  His five triples moved him into sole possession of second in school history (199).
Artur Konontsuk scored 11 points off the bench. Southern Miss is 3-1 this year when he hits double-figures, and it was the 13th instance of his two-year career.