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Eagles come up big against Mocs

    CHATTANOOGA — Georgia Southern Men’s Basketball broke a three-game schnide with a 77-61 win over Chattanooga in the Eagles final trip to the Lookout City in SoCon play. The Eagles trailed early, but closed the opening period with a 13-2 run. Jelani Hewitt’s three-pointer at the buzzer in the first half gave the Eagles a lead that would not be relinquished.
    “I felt like we have been playing our best basketball in the last few games even though it hasn’t shown on the scoreboard,” said Head Coach Mark Byington. “Having our guys play well and get the reward of a win is going to be great for our confidence. Chattanooga blew our doors off early in the game, but we fought our way back into the game. I feel like Jelani’s three-pointer at the end of the first half was a game-changer.”
    The Eagles came out of the halftime break and added a 10-2 run to post a 10-point lead that would not be touched by the Mocs who suffer their first home loss in league play. Chattanooga (16-12, 10-3) entered the game ranked second in the SoCon standings and was knocked from their perch as the Eagles improve to 12-16 on the season and 5-8 in the SoCon.
    Hewitt finished the evening with 24 points, but was bested by teammate Tre Bussey with 25 points. Bussey was 11-of-19 from the field on the evening while Hewitt made 6-of-11 from downtown, matching his career-high. Joining the dynamic duo in double figures was Angel Matias with 14 points.
    Chattanooga got 21 points from Z. Mason who was held to seven rebounds. Greg Pryor added most of his 10 points late to join Mason in double figures.
    Georgia Southern won the battle of the boards 37-30 behind 10 from Marvin Baynham. The senior post-man became the 12th member of the 500 rebound club at Georgia Southern with the dime on the boards.
    The Eagles extended their advantage to as many as 19 in the second half as the visitors scored 41 second-half points. The victory was the second-straight win for the Eagles in Chattanooga with both wins featuring three-pointers by Hewitt at the buzzer. In the 2011-12 season, Hewitt’s three-ball at the horn gave the Eagles a 75-72 win.
    The final home game of the SoCon Era is next for the Eagles with Elon coming to Hanner Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Prior to the game, Georgia Southern will honor its senior class in a special pregame ceremony. It is also Pack the House in Pink Day.