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Eagles hit the road

Men face WCU, women visit Davidson

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    The Eagles try to turn things around when they face Western Carolina today in a televised matchup on CSS.
    Georgia Southern (10-13, 3-9) is still alive for the battle for a first-round bye in the Southern Conference Tournament and stand three games behind the Catamounts (9-14, 6-6) and Furman for the coveted fifth and final spot.
    “Right now we’re just trying to get our team back together and in place so we can start preparing for the tournament,” said coach Jeff Price. “I think we’ll take a step towards that if we get Dwayne (Foreman) back for this weekend, and it’s going to be a gradual process.”
    WCU had won two straight before dropping a 76-64 decision at Charleston, despite receiving a career-high 39 points from freshman Nick Aldridge. The Catamounts are tied with Furman at 6-6 in the SoCon in fifth place and are 9-14 overall.
    The third-leading scorer in the conference, Aldridge has scored at least 22 points in his last three games and has reached double figures in 12 straight outings. Against league competition, he averages 20 points per game.
    “He’s a tremendous freshman, and he’s obviously established himself as a dominant inside player his first year,” Price added. “He’s good with his back to the basket, he can face up and forces you to change somewhat the scheme of your defense and how you’re going to play.”
    Posting his third straight double-double Saturday was junior Louis Graham, who totaled 12 points and 10 rebounds. His run of three straight doubles is one shy of his personal best of four set earlier this season. He has 11 on the season, which leads the league. Graham has scored 10 or more points in his last 11 outings and in 18 of his last 19 games.
    The absence of Foreman has meant extra playing time for freshman Antoine Johnson. The rookie has averaged 8.5 points in his first two career starts, including 10 vs. Appalachian State, his second-ever double-digit scoring effort.
    Price expects Foreman to be ready for this weekend, but how ready remains to be seen.
    “I think he’ll be able to play some minutes - it’s really going to be a game-time decision,” Price said. “We’ll see how he feels. If he’s in any pain or can feel that hamstring then we won’t play him because we want to get him ready for the end of the season. If he goes out there and he’s loose and feels pretty good then he’ll play.”
    WCU ranks first in the SoCon in turnover margin at +2.70 and without Foreman in the lineup the last two games, GSU has fallen to 11th at 1.26.  The Catamounts forced 17 turnovers Monday at the College of Charleston while committing just nine themselves.  Against App State, the Eagles were behind in the turnover category 11-2 at halftime and 21-12 for the game.
    “We’ve got to a better job of valuing every possession,” Price said. “We continue to talk about that and realize that we’re losing close games on last possessions and understand that the possession in the first half is just as important as the last possession. It’s an opportunity to score the ball, and we have to do a better job of taking care of the ball, and on their side, try to force a few turnovers and get some easy shots.”

Lady Eagles begin tough road trip
    Georgia Southern women’s basketball commences a three-game road trip today, clashing with a strong Davidson squad at Belk Arena. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.
    Georgia Southern (9-15, 4-9) is looking to bounce back from a recent loss to UNC Greensboro on Monday as the Lady Eagles meet the Wildcats (18-6, 9-4) for the second time this season. In their first meeting on Jan. 13, Davidson edged the Lady Eagles by a 69-51 margin at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    In that game, freshman guard Carolyn Whitney led all scorers with 14 points and five steals, including a pair of 3-pointers and a 4 of 4 shooting performance from the free-throw line.
    Georgia Southern struggled shooting from the field (.295) compared to Davidson’s 43.6 shooting percentage with three Wildcats scoring in double-figures.
    Georgia Southern leads the all-time series against Davidson by a 17-13 margin.  But the Wildcats have taken command in the last six years, garnering a 9-3 record and winning the last seven consecutive matches. At Davidson’s Belk Arena, the Lady Eagles hold a 7-6 advantage with their last victory on Davidson soil occurring six years ago on Jan. 22, 2001.
    Pacing the Lady Eagles is junior guard Tiffany Brown, who averages 14.3 points per game. She leads the team in3-point field goal percentage (.301) and 3-pointers made per game (1.6). Carolyn Whitney follows with 9.8 points per contest, but leads the squad in assists (3.2), steals (1.8) and free-throw percentage (.864). Whitney’s knack for shooting from the line consistently ranks among the best in the nation, with the last tally (Feb. 4) ranking her 26th nationally. Junior forward Chequilla Jessie tallies a team best 4.8 rebounds per game, while leading the team in field-goal shooting (43.9).
    Davidson’s Katie Hamilton leads the squad in points per game (10.6) and paces the team in three-point shooting (.396).
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