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GSU can't contain UGA
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Georgia Southern forward Danielle Spencer, right, challenges a shot by Georgia's Jasmine Hassell in the first half at Hanner Fieldhouse Tuesday.


Georgia Southern’s women’s basketball team displayed the intensity and improvement head coach Rusty Cram hoped to see Tuesday night.

The Lady Eagles lost, 68-49, to the University of Georgia, which is ranked No. 12 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but Cram was much happier with the way his played than he was after GSU’s 88-46 season-opening loss to unranked Arizona on Friday night.

"In the first half against Arizona, we were scared to death," Cram said. "But we competed today. What we keyed on the last two days was to compete. Come out and push, bite, scratch, shove, whatever you’ve got to do to compete. And we just have to do that right now. And I thought we did that tonight. For 40 minutes, I thought for at least 31, 32 of those minutes we worked our butts off.

"They’re certainly a more talented, stronger team, but we made a lot of headway learning to compete. And that’s what this team has to get out of the game and do every time we play. I was pleased with a lot of things. I’m certainly not pleased with a loss. You never are. But at the same time, we did get better."

A Hanner Fieldhouse crowd of 10,038 watched as scrappy GSU (0-2) showed it was not intimidated by UGA (2-0), which beat TCU, 83-60, in its season opener Friday night.

GSU sophomore guard MiMi DuBose’s 3-pointer gave the Lady Eagles a 13-11 lead, their first of the game, with 13:48 to play before halftime. GSU freshman Tashayla Steede, who started at forward, scored on a layup to make it 15-11, the Lady Eagles’ biggest lead.

"Arizona was our first game. We were all nervous. And that’s typical. Arizona is a big school," said DuBose, who finished with a team-high 14 points, including both of GSU’s 3-pointers. "Tonight, we knew that coming in, playing a top-13 team in the country, we couldn’t afford to come out flat like we did against Arizona. And I thought everybody, especially starting a freshman (Steede), everybody did so well tonight just giving their all and playing with a lot of heart.

"We knew we were going to give up some points. We knew that there were going to be times that we simply can’t stop them. They’re 13th in the country, and we’re a mid-major, so we knew that was going to happen. I think that we did exceptionally well tonight."

UGA took a 16-15 lead it never relinquished on a foul shot by junior forward Anne Marie Armstrong with 8:53 left in the first half.

GSU trailed UGA, 38-26, at halftime — much better than when the Lady Eagles trailed Arizona, 48-16, at halftime.

"We know we have to take the small victories within the game and apply those to what we’re going to see in conference," DuBose said. "I think if we keep playing like this, we’re going to be hard to beat."

GSU senior guard Janay Wilson scored 10 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Steede finished with eight points and four rebounds.

GSU grabbed 30 rebounds compared to UGA’s 36 rebounds. The Lady Eagles committed 24 turnovers compared to the Lady Bulldogs’ 15 miscues. UGA scored 31 points off GSU’s turnovers.

UGA was led by junior forward Jasmine Hassell, who scored a game-high 17 points. Sophomore guard Khaalidah Miller and junior guard Jasmine James added 16 points apiece.

"The downside tonight, in my opinion, is we didn’t get on the offensive boards and we didn’t defend the drive very well," UGA head coach Andy Landers said. "I mean, we were borderline awful. I was disappointed because that’s something you can correct in the ebb and flow of the game if you want to. But we seemed never to do that. (GSU) started driving early and finished the game driving."

GSU will play Mercer at 7 p.m. Thursday in Macon. The Lady Eagles will play Alabama at 7:30 p.m. Monday in Tuscaloosa, Ala.


Noell Barnidge can be reached at (912) 489-9408.