The Georgia Southern Eagle basketball teams split a pair of games Saturday with the women winning an exciting 64-63 decision over UT Arlington while the guys fell short in a comeback bid at 73-67 at South Alabama.
The Georgia Southern women had lost four straight games in which the margin of victory was five points or less including a 78-74 loss against Texas State on Thursday, but were determined to snap that streak.
Junior Mya Burns sank a pair of free throws with four seconds left to put the Eagles up by one. The Mavericks got the ball back but Eden Johnson stole the ball from Starr Jakobs ending the game.
“I was thinking last night about how we have been closing out games,” said coach Anita Howard. “I didn’t want this one to come down to the wire, but to see it come down in a defensive fashion which we never stopped playing that is what I am most proud of.”
Burns scored a game high 23 points and was the only Eagle player in double figures, and while she did hit what ended up being the game winning free throw, she also made a huge block of a layup attempt by Terry Milton with eight seconds left which would have extended the Mavericks lead to three.
“When Mya missed her free throw with 11 seconds left, she almost checked out,” said Howard. “She decided to step back up and made a huge play with that blocked shot, and then sank both free throws for the win. That is what basketball is all about, going from extreme highs to extreme lows and battling through it.”
The game saw both teams have double digit leads evaporate. UT Arlington held a 10-point lead in the second quarter at 20-10 before the Eagles went on a 23-4 run to close the half thanks in part to good ball movement resulting in layups, and five three pointers.
In the second half the Eagles extended their lead to as many as 13 points, but the Mavericks went on a 26-7 run to close the third to grab a 50-44 lead. UT Arlington led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter with the Eagles lone lead of the second half coming on Burns free throws with four seconds left.
“We never held our head down even when they were up by 10 in the second half,” said Howard. “This was a gritty win and we needed every bit of grit to beat a very good UT Arlington team.”
The Eagles improve to 11-5 overall and 2-2 in Conference play. Up next the Eagles will travel to Georgia State Saturday for an 11:30 start.
For the Georgia Southern men, a late comeback fell short as the Eagles fall to 8-7 overall and 1-3 in conference play after a 73-67 loss at South Alabama.
The Eagles were led by Elijah McCadden with season-high 19 points and career best 11 rebounds as the erased a 13-point halftime deficit and lad 59-56 with 5:22 left in the game. South Alabama responded going on a 10-0 run to put things away with the Eagles missing on seven consecutive trips down floor during the Jaguar run.
“In the second half we had a valiant effort in playing with a sense of urgency,” said Eagle coach Brian Burg. “We didn’t show that in the first 20 minutes of the game and that is where the game was lost.”
“I told the team you want to finish the game and have no regret,” said Burg. “We definitely regretted the way we played in the first half. You are on the road and playing a good team and you can’t get down if things don’t go your way. I take ownership of that. We bounced back in the second half to give ourselves a shot with energy and emotion that we need to use for the entire game.”
The Eagles were led by McCadden with 19 while Gedi Jouzapaitis had 10 points. Up next for the Eagles they are scheduled to play Coastal Carolina Thursday at 7:00 followed by a Saturday game at Hanner Fieldhouse against Appalachian State at 3 p.m.