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Lady Eagles win second straight

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    BOONE, N.C. – Tiffany Brown and Ashley Melson combined for 38 points as the Lady Eagles concluded a three-game road trip with a 68-61 win over
Appalachian State Wednesday night at Boone’s Holmes Center.
    Georgia Southern (11-16, 6-10) won its second consecutive game on the road, its third road game in five days.
    Appalachian State fell to 11-16 overall and 5-11 in league play, extending its losing skid to five games.
    The Lady Eagles were paced by Brown, a junior guard  who scored 20 points for her second consecutive 20-point performance, making 7 of 11 attempts from the field and going 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Sophomore Ashley Melson followed with a career-high 18 points on 6 of 14 shooting, including a trio of 3-pointers and a perfect 3 of 3 from the charity stripe.
    “The guards are stepping up,” said 11th-year GSU coach Rusty Cram.“I’m as proud of Melson as I could be. And I’d hate to play without her tonight because she was a big, big lift in the first half and got us back in the ball game.”
    Melson’s nine points in the first half paced the GSU squad.
    The Mountaineers were led by guard Whitney Tossie with 19 points on
8 of 17 field-goal shooting, while guard GiGi Thomas netted 14 points on
5 of 17 attempts from the field.
    In first-half action after Chequilla Jessie put the Lady Eagles on the scoreboard first with a free throw, and Appalachian State jumped out to an early 8-1 advantage, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and foul shots.
    ASU went on to build a nine-point, 14-5 lead with 13:29 remaining in
the first half, thanks to Tossie’s jumper, just two of her five first-half points.
    Georgia Southern slowly clawed its way back to tie up the match after
producing a 21-12 scoring drive over the next nine minutes, capped by
Brown’s layup with 4:31 on the clock.
    The Mountaineers led at the half, 33-31 with GSU’s bench outscoring ASU
17-2 in first-half action.
    In the second stanza, the two teams battled back and forth for eight minutes, with Appalachian State maintaining at least a five-point advantage.
    But the Lady Eagles made some adjustments that opened up some more
scoring opportunities.
    “In the first have we were very lethargic, and we had nobody scoring,”
added Cram. “So what we tried to do is to create a few plays for
Tiffany (Brown) to get her isolated to go one-on-one, and fortunately it
worked. Because for the first six or eight minutes, they were doing a
great job on her, she wasn’t getting any looks at the basket. So we had
to create a few.”
    The Lady Eagles had to face a tough offensive performance headed by
ASU’s Whitney Tossie, whose 14 points in the second half made the
comeback difficult.
    Brown’s jumper with 11:55 on the clock gave the Lady Eagles their first
lead since early in the first half. It was just two of Brown’s 14 second-half points, and GSU owned a 44-43 lead that it would never relinquish.
    The Lady Eagles were able to build up its largest lead thanks to a Brown layup with 9:44 remaining. And though Whitney Kentner’s jumper with 5:20 remaining closed the margin to just two points, Georgia Southern was able to maintain the lead.
    Georgia Southern’s defense forced 21 turnovers which were converted into
20 points, while ASU took advantage of GSU’s 25 errors, scoring 18 points.
    “Chequilla Jessie, Christa Waterman and Jessica Geiger did an excellent
job inside today rotating through,” said Cram. “Geiger did a great job
on Jaime Bennett who is a key player for them. She just defended her
really well the times we needed her to.”
    Winning the rebounding margin was the Lady Eagles by a 43-41 margin,
thanks in part to Jessie’s team-high seven rebounds, and while both
teams made Southern’s performance from the charity stripe that helped maintain the lead in the second half, going 15 of 20 from the line.
    “We got to the line tonight, and that’s what we had to do,” added Cram. “We just started isolating, going back to Tiffany Brown and Ashley Melson and Shawnda Atwood and started spreading the floor, and letting them create some one-on-one situations and getting them to the line. Even our post players benefited from it and got to the line. So they got to the line tonight and we made them when we had to down the stretch.”
    The Lady Eagles led the Mountaineers in shooting, hitting 40.7 percent
from the field and 69 percent from the charity stripe.  ASU made 35.5
percent from the field and 54.2 percent from the line. GSU’s bench outscored the Mountaineers 29-8.
    The Lady Eagles return to Statesboro to host Chattanooga Monday at 5 p.m.
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