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Lady Eagles clinch SoCon’s sixth seed

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    CHARLESTON, S.C. – Tiffany Brown’s 17 points, including a pair of late free throws, and Chequilla Jessie’s 13-point, 10-rebound performance lifted the Lady Eagles over College of Charleston, 52-50, Saturday afternoon at Charleston’s Kresse Arena.
    The Lady Eagles (12-17, 7-11) held a four-point, 50-46, advantage with 1:29 remaining in the game.
    But the Cougars (10-19, 5-13) were able to tie the match with 25 seconds remaining, thanks to a Jill Furstenburg layup and a pair of free throws off the hands of Sarah Moye.
    With the next possession, Georgia Southern gave the ball to junior Brown to make one last play.
    After being fouled while shooting a running jumper, Brown calmly sank both free throws with five seconds on the clock, and the Lady Eagles held a two-point advantage.
    Charleston was unable to get a shot off in the waning seconds as the Lady Eagles defense held on for the victory to close out the regular season, and the Cougars dropped their ninth consecutive game before heading into the Southern Conference tournament.
 “Everybody knew what was involved in this game and what was on the line,” said GSU coach Rusty Cram.
    “We just knew it was going to be a very tight ball game from start to finish. I felt like it was going to come down to if we could just maintain a decent post game, that the guards were going to be the difference for both teams.”
    Brown led all scorers with 17 points, shooting 6 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 5 from behind the three-point arc.
    Jessie garnered her second double-double of the season and third of here career, shooting 5 of 8 from the field and hitting all three free-throw attempts.

“They were double- and triple-teaming (Jessie) and she didn’t get a break all night,” said Cram.
    “But she held her composure. I thought she could have been to the line just about every trip.  She knocked her free throws down, and came down with big rebounds. We isolated her quite a bit. My hat’s off to Chequilla.  What a great night for her to have.”
    Charleston was led by Furstenburg with 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field, including a perfect 2 of 2 from behind the arc, and 3 of 3 from the charity stripe.
    Melissa Chambers followed with 12 points, while Sarah Moye’s 10 rebounds led the Cougars’ squad.
    College of Charleston led in field goal shooting, hitting 39.5 percent from the field, compared to GSU’s 33.3 percent performance.
    CofC also led in 3-point shooting at 37.5 percent, but Georgia Southern bettered Charleston from the free-throw line, making 10 of 12 (.833) free-throw attempts, compared to Charleston’s 61.9 percent.
    Brown’s five steals led an intense GSU defensive effort that saw the Lady Eagles produce 27 points off of Charleston’s 27 turnovers, compared to the Cougars’ 13 points off of GSU’s 21 miscues.
    “The points off turnovers, I thought, was the difference in the game because everything else is pretty much even across the board,” added Cram.
    “We changed up defense a bit, and I think that stymied them some. We don’t play a lot of zone, but today we went to zone several times. We worked hard on it the last two or three days in practice, and gave them
different looks.
    “So I think it got them out of their offensive rhythm and set up a few steals for us when they weren’t expecting it. As the game wore more and more on, we held our composure, we increased our intensity, because our girls got more and more confidence, and I thought that was the difference in the game.”
    Charleston led 28-25 going into the locker room with Furstenburg leading all scorers with 10 points. Brown had seven first half points, while junior forward Shawnda Atwood had six points early off
that helped set the tone.
    Said Cram of Atwood’s performance in the first minutes of the game: "Shawnda lives by the philosophy: ‘You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ And she’s that go-to player that seems to always step up in big games.
    “She set the tone for us early in the game when nobody else was really looking to get it done, and I think that relaxed everybody because they found the leader right off the bat.
    “They didn’t have to question who was going to step up and get it done for us. Shawnda set the tone, and I thought everybody fell into place from there, and that’s what leaders do.”
    Georgia Southern and Charleston remained at a deadlock with 35 rebounds, apiece, which was reflective of a game that saw 10 ties and 13 lead changes.
    With the win, Georgia Southern clinched at least a No. 6 seed in the Southern Conference tournament, which sets up a Thursday match up.
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