SAN MARCOS, Texas – Mike Hughes tipped in a Jelani Hewitt missed jumper with 1:39 to go, and the Eagles made it stand with key defensive stops down the stretch as Georgia Southern posted a 45-43 Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball victory over the Bobcats Thursday night in Strahan Coliseum.
After JeMarcus Weatherspoon tied the score 43-43 on a layup with 1:58 remaining, Hewitt pulled up for a jumper that rimmed out but Hughes was there to tip in the miss. The Eagles got a defensive stop on Texas State’s trip down the floor, but could not add to their lead as Hewitt’s 3-point try was off the mark with 11.8 to play.
D.J. Brown tried to drive the lane for Texas State’s last shot but Curtis Diamond knocked the ball away and after a scrum, the loose ball made it all the way into the backcourt as the final horn sounded.
“Curt got his hand in there and deflected it, and it went all the way out and the clock couldn’t run out fast enough,” said Georgia Southern coach Mark Byington.
“It shows a lot about our toughness getting that last stop,” said Eagle senior forward Trent Wiedeman. “Things weren’t really going our way, but we were able to get those stops to win it.”
Hewitt finished with 14 points and five rebounds for Georgia Southern (12-4, 5-2), while Wiedeman tallied 12 points and six rebounds. Hughes contributed seven points and three rebounds.
Weatherspoon finished with 15 points and four rebounds to lead Texas State (10-8, 4-5), and Cameron Naylor collected 12 points and eight boards. Emani Gant finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Much like the first meeting in Statesboro less than a month ago, it was another defensive donnybrook between the Eagles and the Bobcats. Georgia Southern was held to 33 percent shooting from the field and returned the favor, holding Texas State to 32 percent from the floor.
“They can really guard, and they make every basket tough,” said Byington. “Sometimes you get an easy look, and you’re so surprised, you miss it, and we had a couple of those tonight. But it was a hard-fought win on the road in a tough environment, and our defense was tremendous tonight.”
Hewitt scored six points, and Wiedeman added four as Georgia Southern jumped out to a 14-4 lead over the first 11:01 of the contest. Gant and Weatherspoon each converted conventional 3-point plays to help Texas State score eight straight points, and Georgia Southern would go into halftime with a 22-19 cushion.
The Eagles, who never trailed in the game, pushed the lead to eight points midway through the second half and led 42-35 after a pair of Hewitt free throws with 6:06 left. The Bobcats used an 8-1 run behind four points by Gant to scratch their way back in the contest.
The Eagles cap their three-game road swing at UL Monroe Saturday. Following Saturday’s game, Georgia Southern opens a five-game homestand against Appalachian State Jan. 29, in Hanner Fieldhouse.