Things got a little tougher than expected in the first half of Georgia Southern’s home opener against NAIA Webber International, but after separating in the second half, the Eagles cruised to a much-needed 87-64 win on Friday in Hanner Fieldhouse.
Georgia Southern trailed much of the first half and led by only three at the break.
“They handled themselves like a Georgia Southern basketball team in the second half,” said GSU coach Charlton Young. “I really didn’t feel like coming in here and practicing at 2:30 in the morning like we were going to after the first half, and we played with some energy in the second half. We’re growing.”
Despite committing a season-high 23 turnovers, after committing only 12 in a 66-53 loss Tuesday at Charlotte, the Eagles (1-2) got their first win and saw all five starters reach double digits in scoring for the first time this season.
Cameron Baskerville came off the bench to add a season-high eight points. In total, 11 Eagles found the score sheet.
The Eagles shot lights out in the game, hitting 61 percent from the floor and 6 of 14 from 3-point range.
They shot 73 percent in the first half on a 19 of 26 clip.
“It was a team effort tonight,” said GSU guard Tre Bussey. “We just wanted to get everyone involved. “It was good just to taste victory. For some of these young guys, it was their first college win, so it’ll help them out.”
Eric Ferguson led GSU with 17 points and eight rebounds, and sat most of the second half after reaching four fouls with 8:16 remaining in the game.
The Eagles were whistled 23 times in the contest.
Webber trailed just 45-42 at halftime, but GSU opened the second half on a 17-8 run capped off with a 3 by Bussey.
Webber was led in scoring by 16 Brian Pace points. Michael Bonilla added 13.
GSU out-rebounded the Warriors, 37-25.
The Eagles led by as many as eight in the early going when Baskerville sank a jumper to put GSU ahead 14-6, but Webber caught fire from behind the arc and drained five 3-point attempts in a row by four different players and took a 21-20 lead less than midway through the first half.
With less than seven minutes to go before the break, Bonilla hit a pair of free throws to give the Warriors their biggest lead at 34-28. An 8-1 run by the Eagles, which was capped off with a two-handed slam by Kameron Dunnican, put the game back in GSU’s control.
Missed free throws by the Warriors helped the Eagles take a 45-43 edge into the locker room at the half. Webber hit just 6 of 13 attempts off of 12 GSU fouls in the first 20 minutes. The Warriors rotated only six players in the game’s opening half.
NOTES: Sophomore guard Jessie Pernell was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. After the one-game suspension, he will return Wednesday on the road against Kennesaw State. … It was the first time all five GSU starters scoreds double digits since the Eagles defeated Reinhardt, 101-84, in 2010.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.