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Eagles' loss to Cougars makes Saturday big

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Georgia Southern's men's basketball team lost, 58-53, to College of Charleston on Thursday night at TD Arena.
    GSU recovered from a slow start to take a lead with three minutes left in the game. Charleston, however, made its shots down the stretch to win and snap the Eagles’ six-game winning streak.
    The loss sets up a crucial Saturday night contest in GSU's bid for a first-round bye in the Southern Conference Tournament. GSU (14-13, 12-5) will play Davidson at 7 p.m. at Hanner Fieldhouse needing a win, or a loss by Wofford at Furman, to clinch the second seed for the tournament.
    Prior to Saturday's game, GSU will honor Willie Powers and Ben Drayton on Senior Night.
    “We definitely wanted to clinch a first-round bye tonight,” GSU head coach Charlton Young said. “Unfortunately, we had a little bit of the big-game jitters in the first 10 minutes and we had to fight back from that throughout the night."
    Powers led GSU with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Drayton scored 10 points. Eric Ferguson picked up a pair of first-half fouls and played only six minutes in the first half. The sophomore responded with six second-half points to finish with eight points and seven rebounds.
    The Cougars (18-11, 9-8) were paced by 18 points from Trent Wiedeman. Both Antwaine Wiggins and Andrew Lawrence scored 10 points.
    The Eagles got off to their slowest start of the year, going 0-for-8 to open the game with six turnovers in the first 8:04.
    GSU trailed, 30-23, at halftime.
    The Eagles trailed by two points with four minutes remaining. GSU took its first lead, 48-47 with 3:45 left on Jessie Pernell's 3-pointer.
    A runner at the other end put Charleston up by one, but Tre Bussey's 3-pointer from the corner gave GSU a 51-49 lead with 2:45 left.
    After a timeout, Charleston made a 3-pointer for a 52-51 lead. The Cougars added another bucket with 1:25 remaining for a 54-51 lead into the game’s final minute. GSU's Jelani Hewitt missed a 3-pointer with 49 seconds left as the Cougars got the ball back with a 10-second differential between the game clock and shot clock.
    A GSU foul with 19.3 seconds left put Charleston’s Wiedeman at the line for a pair of free throws. He made one, giving the Cougars a 55-51 lead. GSU's Powers took the ball and went the length of the floor, but missed a layup with 11 seconds remaining. Powers' layup with 3.5 seconds left cut Charleston's lead to 56-53.