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Eagles pulverize Pikeville

Gennie sinks 7 of 8 from beyond the arc

    Georgia Southern entered Tuesday night’s game looking to regain its confidence and pick up a little aggressiveness along the way.
    And three days after a shocking 21-point home loss to UNC Greensboro, the Eagles did just that, dominating an overmatched Pikeville team in an 89-68 non-conference victory at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    “Coach made an emphasis of playing hard tonight, not taking plays off and playing for a complete 40 minutes, so we tried to come out and do that,” said senior Donte Gennie, who finished with a game-high 25 points, including a career-high seven 3-pointers.
    Junior Louis Graham tied a career-high with 22 points for Georgia Southern (7-6), which shot 52.2 percent from the field. Eleven different Eagles scored, including Jimmy Tobias, who added 10 along with a season-high eight rebounds and Anthony Marshall, who had a career-high 10. Dwayne Foreman turned in a career-high 13 assists, while Diogo Salazar grabbed a career-high eight boards.
    “Making shots solves a lot of problems, and we shot the ball really well,” said GSU coach Jeff Price, who coached against his alma mater for the second time in his career.
    Midway through the final half Gennie and Graham had outscored the entire Pikeville team as the dynamic duo combined for 47 points while the Bears had just 45.
    The Eagles had plenty of other sparkling statistics against the NAIA Bears (8-8), including outscoring Pikeville 46-18 in the paint and out-rebounding the visitors by 19. But what pleased Price the most was his team’s effort.
    “The biggest thing I wanted to do was see us play with some passion and play hard – that’s what we lacked the other night,” he said. “We talked about being more aggressive offensively and trying to score more, and I thought we did that. That’s something we need to continue to do.”
    Marshall’s 10 points, which included a one-handed, baseline slam, were a welcomed boost for a Georgia Southern team needing more contributors outside of the starting five. Junior Matt Fields emerged as one of the Eagles’ top reserves, but hasn’t played since breaking his foot in mid-December.
    “Anything we can get off the bench is important,” Price said. “We are constantly searching for more depth – I think that’s a weakness of our team right now. It was good to see some guys come off the bench and give us a lift offensively.”
    GSU used an 18-2 first-half run to ensure there would be no upset, but the biggest scare of the night came when Graham’s head slammed into the base of the basket after a hard fall in the first half. The junior was motionless for a few minutes before being escorted off the court. He returned to the court in the second half and said after the game he was feeling well.
    “Pikeville is a good school, and when they come in here, it’s like the Super Bowl,” Graham said. “They are trying to get an upset, so we had to come out with a killer instinct. We did what we had to do.”
    The Eagles return to SoCon action Saturday, hosting Furman at 7:30 p.m.
    “We played as a team tonight, and that’s what we need to do for the rest of the year,” Gennie said.

    Alex Pellegrino can be reached at (912) 489-9413.

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