Hattiesburg, MS (SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Craig tallied 16 points and nine rebounds, as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles held off a second-half surge by the Toledo Rockets to capture a 66-59 victory in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at Reed Green Coliseum.
Craig shot 6-of-8 from the field and also handed out four assists for USM (28-6), which will take on Missouri in the second round. Rounding out the double-digit scorers for the Golden Eagles were Neil Watson (12 points), Jerrold Brooks (11) and Aaron Brown (10).
Julius Brown paced all scorers with 19 points as Toledo's (27-7) season came to an end. Justin Drummond posted 14 points and seven rebounds, while Rian Pearson and Nathan Boothe netted 13 and 10 points, respectively.
USM took a comfortable 34-19 lead into intermission after shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Toledo, meanwhile, knocked down only 28 percent of its tries from the floor in the opening 20 minutes.
The Rockets turned things around in a hurry at the start of the second stanza, ripping off a furious 24-6 run to take a three-point lead with 11:45 to play. The Golden Eagles responded with a 15-4 surge of their own later in the frame to regain control and they held on down the stretch for the seven-point victory.
Although Toledo committed just seven turnovers on the evening, it was plagued by a poor showing from 3-point range (4-of-22).