The Georgia Southern Eagles got their first Southern Conference win of the season on Monday, picking up a 79-70 win over the Wofford Lady Terriers in Hanner Fieldhouse.
Despite the margin, the Eagles dominated nearly every statistical category.
The Eagles (3-7, 1-1 SoCon) out-rebounded Wofford 43-26, shot 47 percent from the floor and scored 25 points off of 15 Wofford turnovers. Wofford (2-7, 0-2) had only five assists to the Eagles’ 15, and made only 1 of 14 3-pointers.
“There’s a lot to be happy about, but we’ve got to make 32 minutes into 40 minutes,” said GSU coach Chris Vozab about the last five minutes, in which Wofford turned a 26-point deficit into a 76-66 score. “Fortunately tonight, we did a lot of really good stuff throughout the first half that we had a cushion and we could close it out.”
Georgia Southern led by 23 points when a Danielle Spencer free throw put the Eagles ahead 71-48 with 4 minutes, 52 seconds remaining, but the Terriers weren't done yet. Wofford went on a 14-1 run — 7 points coming at the free-throw line — to cut the GSU lead to 72-62 with 2:02 remaining.
From there, it was a free-throw contest. The Eagles made 7 of 8 from the line and held on for a nine-point win. Wofford scored 21 points at the foul line in the game.
“We really had control of the game until about that 5 minute mark, and then we started fouling and losing our discipline on defense, rushing on offense, all the things we’ve been talking about,” Vozab said.
The game was almost reminiscent of the SoCon opener, when Furman overcame a 12-point deficit against GSU into a 67-62 loss for the Eagles.
“I was thinking I wasn’t going to let that happen again,” said guard Anna Claire Knight, who led the Eagles with 19 points. “As a team, we weren’t going to let that happen. I think we just got a little complacent. We’ve got to keep fighting, keep that lead.”
Point guard Lacy Dowling shot 3 of 6 from long distance for GSU and scored 12 points, and forward Brianna Jones added 11 points and 8 rebounds.
The Eagles grabbed the momentum before the half, and it came after Wofford used a 9-1 run to take a 15-14 lead. MiMi DuBose snapped the Terriers’ momentum by drilling a 3 and handing the lead back to the Eagles.
Georgia Southern closed the half on a 20-6 rally that included five steals by the Eagles. Knight scored eight-straight points off three steals in the run, which was capped by a jumper by Jessica Marcus off an assist by DuBose.
Eight of GSU’s 12 first-half field goals came off an assist.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we like to create for each other,” Dowling said. “(An assist) is almost better than scoring.”
The game opened on a 13-6 run by the Eagles. Wofford’s Chanel Stokes kept the Terriers around by making four free throws, but as a team they made just 2 of their first 13 shots from the floor and went 8 minutes, 8 seconds without a bucket. Lauren Kirby broke the slump with a layup that made it 13-8, but Wofford made just 7 of its 26 first half shots and got out-rebounded by the Eagles, 23-14, as they trailed 34-21 at the break.
Kirby led all scorers with 20 points off 10 of 12 shooting.
The Eagles don’t play another SoCon game until after the New Year, a Jan. 4, trip to face Chattanooga.
“Going into Christmas, 1-1 is a lot better than 0-2,” Dowling said. “We can come back and feed off that.”
Next up for the Eagles is a trip to Jacksonville, Fla., for the Hampton Inn Oceanfront Holiday Classic. Georgia Southern faces Eastern Illinois on Dec. 20, at 1 p.m.
NOTES: Georgia Southern improved to 31-5 all time against the Terriers. … DuBose’s 3 gave her 152 for her career. She needs 11 more to match Alie Rousseau for second all time in program history. … DuBose is also 35 points away from 1,000 for her career.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.