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Georgia Southern slips past Phoenix in overtime

            Elon scored 28 points off of 21 Georgia Southern turnovers, but the Lady Eagles fought back, forced overtime and got a down-to-the-wire win for the second game in a row as they held off the Lady Phoenix 71-69 Monday at Hanner Fieldhouse.

            “The kids are just finding a way,” said GSU coach Rusty Cram, whose Eagles improved to 10-1 at home with the win. “I think that’s the best way to put it. It’s not one person and it’s not two. There are just eight or 10 of them doing little things here and there. If I’ve ever seen a group that defined the word team, it would be these young ladies.”

            Elon (15-8, 9-5 Southern Conference) pounded the post in overtime, and forward Kelsey Evans hit a jumper in the paint with 2:15 remaining in the extra period to put the Phoenix ahead 66-62.

            Georgia Southern (11-13, 8-7) responded at the other end when Samantha Williams drove the lane and kicked out to Meredyth Frye, who led the team with 16 points, for a wide open baseline 3-pointer that cut it to 66-65.

            Briana Scott blocked a shot at the other end that was recovered by Frye, which set up a pair of Williams free throws that gave the Eagles a 67-66 lead. Frye got another defensive rebound, and was fouled with 11 seconds to go.

            She hit the first for a two-point GSU lead, but missed the second.

            Scott was there for the offensive board, and got it back to Frye, who went to the line again and knocked down both tries to put the Eagles ahead 70-66

            Elon guard Ali Ford, who was quiet in overtime despite 23 points in regulation, drilled a long 3 to cut it to 70-69, and Frye got fould again. She hit one of her two final attempts, which was enough for the Eagles to hold on for the win.

            Scott, Williams and RoRo Smith each blocked shots in the final minutes of regulation and overtime to prevent the Phoenix from extending one-possession leads

            “You just go after the ball,” said Williams, who scored 14 points and added five assists, “whatever you can do, especially in the last minute when they’re not apt to call many fouls.”

            Smith scored a career-high 13 points, and her block sent her crashing to the floor and out of the game with an injury that looked a lot worse than it was.

            “ I knew it was going to get dished off and I was like, ‘No. She can’t score.’ I did all I could and blocked the shot, and on my landing, my knee popped,” said Smith. “It was scary. I’ve never had anything like that happen in my life. But, I’m okay.”

            Point guard Jamie Navarro (13 points) fouled out in the first minute of overtime, but it was her second 3-pointer of the night from four feet beyond the top of the arc, that tied the game at 60-60 in regulation.

            Elon made a living off GSU miscues, scoring 28 points off turnovers, and used them to keep within six, 32-26, at halftime.

            The Phoenix took a 46-45 lead with 11 minutes to go in the second half and didn’t trail again until overtime.

            “In the last five minutes of the first half, they scored 12 points off of turnovers in a bang-bang type of deal, and that can’t happen,” Cram said. “The difference was we rebounded the mess out of the ball. They beat us by 14 or 15 at their place in the rebounding category, and we did that to them this time.”

            While the Phoenix were capitalizing on GSU turnovers, the Eagles were making a living off of second chances. They out-rebounded Elon 44-32, and scored 16 points after offensive rebounds.

            The GSU bench scored 23 points in the win.

            Ford’s 26 points led Elon, and Evans added 15. Julie Taylor finished with 10.

            The Eagles return to the road, where they are still looking for their first SoCon win, Monday at Western Carolina at 7 p.m.

 

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

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