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Lady Eagles brace for Crimson Tide

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Lady Eagles brace for Crimson Tide

After Tuesday’s uplifting 71-52 win against Mercer, in which the Georgia Southern Lady Eagles shot 44.7 percent from the floor and a lights-out 40.7 percent from behind the 3-point line, it’s time to get back into the SEC.

The Southeastern Conference’s Alabama will travel to Hanner Fieldhouse tonight for a 7 p.m. matchup. It will be the second SEC opponent since the Eagles (1-1) opened the 2010-11 season in Athens, Ga. Against the No. 19 Georgia Lady Bulldogs in a 58-43 loss.

For the fans, it will be about setting an all-time attendance record, but for coach Rusty Cram and the Eagles, it will be about playing better than the last time.

"The big thing right now was just getting that first W at home," Cram said about the Mercer win. "That’s always the hardest one to get is that first one every year, so we had to get past Mercer before we could even think anything about Alabama. The kids played hard at Georgia, and they showed signs the second half. We really stepped it up and picked up the intensity."

Cram is no stranger to hosting SEC teams. Georgia and Auburn have played in Hanner in recent years, and the GSU coach uses games like that to learn more about his team.

"Getting teams like that in here exposes weaknesses for us. It gives us a chance to work on them and get better and better every time we step out on the court," said Cram. "That’s what I’m gauging right now. The wins and losses are great — I understand all that — but my job to get better every time we go on the court. Alabama’s the next game, so it’s the biggest game of the year right now. We’ve got to go play it, play hard-nosed basketball, hope things go our way and get better. Then get ready for Sunday at Jacksonville."

The Eagles return the most experience in the guard position, where senior Jamie Navarro has been the leader at the point since midway through her sophomore year, but the Eagles lost both of last year’s starters underneath.

Candice Ivy played a team-high 25 minutes against Mercer, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds and showing, at least in the early going, that she’s got the tools to lead the Eagles in the paint.

"We started the game getting inside, then we quit," Cram said. "They made some adjustments and we couldn’t get any penetration."

In the second half, freshmen forwards Danielle Spencer and Aishya Wofford got involved in the post game, opening things up for the rest of the offense.

"After halftime we made some adjustments," said Cram. "We got some movement and people were coming across the lane. We started getting the ball in, they had to collapse, then we started getting a few from the perimeter."

Five different Eagles hit from 3-point range in the game. Navarro led the way hitting 5 of 9 attempts.


Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.

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