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Eagles fall 58-50 in Hanner to SU
020511 BKC GSU HOOPS 01
Georgia Southern guard Jelani Hewitt slips between multiple Samford defenders for a score in the lane during the first half Saturday at Hanner Fieldhouse. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

    On February 22, 2010 in Birmingham, Ala. against Samford, Georgia Southern won its last Southern Conference game.
    Now, 14 conference games later, the Bulldogs remembered.
    Samford took a one-point halftime lead and turned it into a 58-50 win Saturday over the Eagles at Hanner Fieldhouse.
    The Bulldogs (12-12, 4-8 SoCon) never trailed in the second half.
    Georgia Southern (4-21, 0-12) was once again led in scoring by junior point guard Ben Drayton, who finished with a game-high 16 points, but the Eagles shot just 2 of 12 from 3-point range and got just 10 combined points out of starting forwards Rory Spencer and Eric Ferguson.
    “I’m disappointed that our bigs didn’t impose their will on this team more,” said GSU coach Charlton Young. “They missed layups inside that should have been and-one if they put the ball up. We’ve got to get better, and we’re going to keep practicing.”
    Samford got ahead early when it led 17-6 with 11:42 remaining in the first half, but the Eagles fought back to take the lead after Drayton left the game with a calf injury.
    Freshman Jelani Hewitt inherited point-guard duties and led a 16-4 run that started underneath with back-to-back buckets by freshman forward Marvin Baynham.
    Hewitt scored the next six points in a row on a pair of tricky layups and a pair of foul shots.
    Drayton returned to the game after a 7 minute, 35 second break and scored back-to-back buckets.
    He got a defensive rebound on the other end to set up Spencer for a pair of foul shots on the other end that gave GSU a 22-21 lead with 1:21 remaining before the break.
    After the half, backup Samford point guard Gregg Wooten had his way offensively. He tied a career high with 12 points — all in the second half — and all 12 points came off of layups.
    The Bulldogs got 35 points off their bench, compared to eight by the Eagles, and finished with 28 points in the paint.
    “We’re going to go back and watch it on film two million times,” said Young. “That’s something that we covered. That was the first part of our game plan. We told them any time there’s a guy standing in the middle of the key in a diagonal fashion, it’s what we call landsliding.”
    Josh Davis hit a pair of 3s and led Samford with 13 points. Josh Bedwell shot just 1 of 7 from the floor but hit all six attempts from the free-throw line.
    The Bulldogs went just 2 of 6 from the charity stripe in the first half, but closed out the game by making nine of 11 second-half attempts.
    All eight GSU bench points came from Baynham, and Spencer, Hewitt and Tre Bussey, all starters, each finished with eight.
    The Eagles return to the court for a three-game road trip which begins Thursday in Greenville, S.C. when they face Furman at 7 p.m.

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