With losses in six of their previous eight games entering Saturday, the last thing that the Georgia Southern women’s basketball team needed was a visit from Southern Conference leader Appalachian State.
Looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Lady Mountaineers, the Lady Eagles put forth a solid effort, but gave way late in a 57-46 ASU victory.
Appalachian (17-3, 11-1 SoCon) was led by Courtney Freeman’s 19 point day as the Mountaineers spoiled what could have been the 200th SoCon win for Georgia Southern (7-15, 3-10).
"For the first 36 or 36 minutes, I thought we played pretty hard," GSU coach Rusty Cram said. "Those last four or five minutes, I’m not sure if we tired out, but (Appalachian) took over. They showed why they are where they’re at in the standings."
Armed with a quartet of six-footers, the Mountaineers were able to control the paint all night and were consistently able to find points inside. Appalachian scored 28 points in the paint to Georgia Southern’s 12 and out-rebounded the Eagles by a 50-25 margin.
"We knew that we had to keep them off of the offensive glass," Cram said. "We spent the whole week working on it. We did a great job of that in the first half, but the last four or five minutes, it’s like we weren’t even on the court."
The Mountaineers controlled the inside, but the Eagles’ outside shooting spurred them on to an early lead and kept them in contention throughout the game.
MiMi Dubose — who led GSU with 14 points –—nailed a pair of 3-pointers in the early going while Anna Claire Knight (10 points) added a long 3 of her own. DuBose’s second trey of the game staked the Eagles to a 17-10 lead at the 11:51 mark of the first half, but her outside strike was answered by a 10-0 ASU run that put the Mountaineers out in front.
Two free throws and a short jumper by Meredyth Frye — back in the lineup after missing a game with an injured ankle — briefly regained the lead for GSU, but another spurt by Appalachian gained it a 30-27 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, the Mountaineers finally found an answer for the Eagles’ jump shots. Switching to a triangle-and-two defense, ASU was able to blanket the Eagles’ sharpshooters, taking away easy looks and limiting Georgia Southern to just 19 points and a pair of 3’s in the final 20 minutes of play.
"They gave us a few different looks," DuBose said. "It made it a lot tougher to find open space and get the shots that we wanted."
Still, the Eagles lingered around, keeping the game within a possession or two for most of the second half. Dubose’s fourth 3 of the game whittled the ASU lead to 44-42 with 9:08 to play, but second chance points for Appalachian and some poor free throw shooting by GSU — the Eagles went just 5-11 from the charity stripe in the game — kept the Mountaineers out in front and allowed them to pull away late.
"The bottom line is that we played well for 35 or 36 minutes," Cram said. "We just didn’t finish. Great teams are going to finish ballgames. That’s something that we have not been able to do all year."
Davidson up next for Lady Eagles
By MIKE BROWN
After facing the Southern Conference’s leading scorer Georgia Southern will now meet up with perhaps the most talented overall player in the league in Davidson’s Sophia Aleksandravicius at 7 p.m. Monday at Hanner Field House.
A pre-season pick as the SoCon’s player-of-the year the 6-foot-4 junior has lived up to her billing in making the Lady Wildcats (14-7, 10-2) one of the teams to beat in the conference.
The Lady Eagles (7-15, 3-10) will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak after Saturday’s loss to conference leader Appalachian State. Georgia Southern is also still looking for its 200th SoCon win as it is 199-131 in 19 seasons.
Facts and Figures
Players to Watch
: GSU—Rusty Cram 238-223, 16th season; Davidson—Michelle Savage 28-24, 2nd season.
: Davidson leads 21-19, and has won 15 of last 17 meetings including one stretch of 13 straight. : GSU—5-10 G Meredith Frye, 9.9 ppg., 5.3 rpg; 5-9 G Mimi DuBose, 8.9 ppg.; 5-8 G Janay Wilson 6.5 ppg., 4.7 rpg. Davidson—6-4 F Sophia Aleksandravicious 14.8 ppg., 9.4 rpg.; 5-9 G Laura Murray, 15.1 ppg., 4.2 rpg.: Aleksandravicius was the conference’s player of the month in January as she averaged 15.3 points and 11 rebounds per game as the Cats went 6-2. She also blocked 41 shots including a career high 9 against Furman. Aleksandravicius leads the SoCon with 68 blocks, and has 212 for her career. : Davidson beat the Eagles 72-48 in December as sophomore Laura Murray, last year’s freshman-of-the-year, led three players in double figures with 13.