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Eagles drop nail-biter to Campbell
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Georgia Southern guard Tr Bussey slowly gets up off the floor as Campbell celebrates its overtime victory over the Eagles at Hanner Fieldhouse Saturday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff


                            Georgia Southern’s Jelani Hewitt scored a career-high 38 points.
    Campbell’s Quinton Ray didn’t score any in regulation, and only two in overtime. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were the game’s most important points
    Ray stole the ball from GSU’s Tre Bussey with 4 seconds remaining, drove the length of the court and laid it in off the glass at the buzzer as the Campbell Fighting Camels won 75-73 on Saturday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
    “Tre will bounce back, and we’ll stick together as a team,” first-year GSU coach Mark Byington said. “I told the guys in the locker room that a lot of times it’s easy to only look at the last play of the game. It didn’t come down to the last play of the game. We did a lot of things that didn’t give us a chance to win.”
    Campbell (4-3) shot 6 of 7 from the floor in overtime, including a 3 by Andrew Ryan and a two-handed dunk by D.J. Mason (20 points).
    Hewitt scored 32 in regulation, and his 38 points were the most scored by an Eagle since Ben Drayton scored 31 against Wofford on Feb. 12, 2011. Hewitt also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds for a double-double.
    “He was so competitive that he kept trying and trying, and he made some tremendous plays,” Byington said. “He wanted to put the team on his back, and I appreciate his courage and willingness to take the risk.”
    Hewitt was also 13 of 14 from the line including 6 of 6 in overtime.
    “I wanted to get to the free-throw line more and I wanted to be aggressive,” Hewitt said. “That was part of the scouting report by the coaches, just attacking these guys and staying aggressive.”
    Bussey had a strong outing for GSU, scoring 19 points and adding 4 assists.
    With the Eagles (3-5) trailing 62-59 in regulation, Hewitt drove the lane and kicked it down the baseline to Bussey, who drilled a 3 to tie the game with 1:20 remaining.
    Down on the other end, Mason missed a 3, and it appeared Marvin Baynham corralled the rebound for GSU, but got tangled up and the Camels were awarded a jump ball with 35 seconds to go.
    CU used most of the remaining clock before a Ryan jumper was blocked by GSU’s Kyle Doyle. Hewitt rebounded it and called timeout with 4.9 seconds left.
After the inbound crossed half court, Hewitt tried to call timeout, but it wasn’t awarded to him and he was called for a travel.
Doyle got a steal to send it to overtime.
    The Eagles were off the mark throughout the first half.
    Were it not for Hewitt, who scored 20 of the Eagles’ 29 points in the first 20 minutes, the Camels would have run away with it. Hewitt was 6 of 6 from the free throw line, hit a pair of 3-pointers while not leaving the floor during the first 20 minutes. The rest of the Eagles combined to go just 4 of 19 from the floor in the opening period.
    Campbell led by as many as nine when Kyre’ Hamer made consecutive layups to pull ahead 26-17 in the first half.
    Georgia Southern forced four turnovers over the next five minutes and went on a 10-5 run sparked by a Hewitt 3 on the dish from Bussey to but it to 31-27. The Eagles trailed 34-29 at inmtermission
    The Eagles return to Hanner Fieldhouse on Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., when they host Brewton-Parker. With Saturday’s loss, the Eagles fell to 2-1 in Hanner on the season.
    “I hate that we lost at home, but we’ve got to stick together as a team, look at what we’ve got to get better at and fix it,” Hewitt said.
NOTES: Starting GSU point guard Brian Holmes suffered a wrist injury on Nov. 23, at Old Dominion and did not play. Curtis Diamond started in his place. … Forward Kameron Dunnican did not play. He is sitting out for undisclosed personal reasons. … Campbell improved to 2-0 against SoCon competition. The Camels defeated Appalachian State 73-66 on Nov. 12, in Boone, N.C.

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