Charleston Southern falls to Southern Miss 78-71 in NIT opener

      HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- Jonathan Mills scored 16 points, Neil Watson added 15 and Southern Miss beat Charleston Southern 78-71 on Wednesday in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

      Southern Miss (26-9) led for nearly the entire game, but struggled to put Charleston Southern (19-13) away until the final minute, when Rashard McGill hit an 18-foot jumper and two free throws for his only four points of the game.

      Southern Miss won a postseason game for the first time since 1988, breaking a nine-game losing streak.

      Charleston Southern, the Big South regular-season champion, pulled within 74-71 with 51 seconds left on Saah Nimley's 3-pointer, but could get no closer. Nimley led the Buccaneers with 24 points.

      Southern Miss will host Louisiana Tech in the second round.

      AP-WF-03-21-13 0330GMT