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GSU women fall to host UNF at tourney

GSU women fall to host UNF at tourney

GSU women fall to host UNF at tourney

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ki Conner scored 17 points, and Paulina Zaveckaite hit two consecutive big shots off the bench to lead North Florida to a 56-47 women’s basketball victory over Georgia Southern in the final game of the Hampton Inn Oceanfront Holiday Classic Saturday afternoon.
    Anna Claire Knight and Lacie Dowling each scored 14 points to lead Georgia Southern (3-9). Sierra Kirkland tallied eight points and five rebounds, and Dowling added four steals. Knight was named to the all-tournament team.
    Conner was 5-for-10 from the field, made two 3-pointers and hit all five of her free throws as the Ospreys (4-7) went 12-for-12 from the foul line. Raneisha Lamar had nine points and six rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, and Chandler Merkerson scored eight.
    The Eagles were stingy defensively, holding UNF to 37 percent shooting in the game and forcing 19 turnovers. But Georgia Southern could never find a rhythm on the offensive end and managed to shoot just 28 percent. Rebounding was also a factor as the Ospreys used 14 offensive rebounds to score 12 second-chance points.
    “Our defensive effort was great throughout the whole game,” Georgia Southern coach Chris Vozab said. “We gave them too many offensive rebounds that hurt us, but we did a better job with that in the second half. We missed some pretty good looks early in the game, and that got us rushing on our late-game shots.”
    With the Eagles down 35-30 midway through the second half, Knight and Kirkland scored consecutive hoops to bring Georgia Southern to within one.
 point. The Eagles got four straight defensive stops but could not get points on the offensive end.
    Danielle Spencer was fouled getting a defensive board on a fifth straight stop and hit two free throws to put GSU on top 40-39 with 6:35 to play. Conner answered with a 3-pointer, and Zaveckaite knocked down a pair of jumpers from the elbow as UNF scored nine in a row to open a 48-40 cushion.
    “After we took the lead, we had a really good defensive possession, and then we were too passive against their zone,” Vozab said. “They made a couple of tough shots, and we were rushing shots instead of shooting with our usual confidence.”
    Knight cut the lead to seven points with a layup, and the Eagles got two defensive stops but could not score on the other end. Conner made all four of her free throws inside the last minute to ice the game.

Bailey Florin hit two 3-pointers and Conner added a third as the Ospreys scored 11 straight points to open a 19-8 lead in the first half. Dowling scored four points to lead the Eagles in a 9-4 run that trimmed the margin to 23-19, and UNF took a four-point cushion into halftime.

The Eagles take a break for Christmas and return to action at home Dec. 30, for a 7 p.m. contest against George Mason in Hanner Fieldhouse. It will be the final non-conference contest of the season for Georgia Southern.

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